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Bad hair day: Australia Post's corporate credit cards treated executives with luxury perks

Australia Post corporate credit cards paid for hair salon treatments, make up appointments and luxury overseas hotels for executives, according to explosive claims from company insiders.

Besieged CEO Christine Holgate was stood down this week on her full $1.3million salary pending an investigation into the alleged misuse of corporate credit cards.

She was reportedly personally chauffeured to her luxury holiday house at Pearl Beach on the NSW central coast. 

Other expenses charged to Australia Post's corporate credit card included lavish dinners, drinking sessions and even flowers for the office.

Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate (pictured) has been stood down pending an investigation into the misuse of company credit cards

Nights on the town were reportedly charged to the company credit card of Australia Post (stock image)


Personal drivers also regularly ferried her from her North Shore home in Sydney to the company head office in Redfern, The Weekend Australian revealed.

The revelation comes as Australia Post disclosed on Friday that four Cartier watches gifted to employees in 2018 from Ms Holgate actually cost just under $20,000, not $12,000 as first claimed. 

The senior employees handed the luxury watches were Gary Starr, Deanne Keetelaar, Anna Bennett and Greg Sutherland. 

It followed the quartet securing the historic $66million Bank at Post deal, which sees Australians access banking services through Australia Post.

Former Australia Post chairman, John Stanhope, is understood to be telling an inquiry into the scandal that the board did not sign off on the luxury watches.

According to the AFR, Mr Stanhope plans to tell the inquiry that while the board agreed with Ms Holgate that well-performing executives deserved gifts, it didn't approve the Cartier watches.

Officials are investigating the possibility of irregular use of taxpayer money by Ms Holgate, board members and other Australia Post executives.

One former Australia Post executive said they were 'gobsmacked' at the alleged ongoing misuse of the credit cards. 

Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate (pictured) was ordered to stand down after luxury watches worth thousands of dollars were given to executives

Under Ms Holgate's tenure, a stream of senior management and executive team quit their respective posts.

Among these are chief financial officer Janelle Hopkins, chief operating officer Bob Black, ser­vices executive Philip Dalidakis, international services executive Annette Carey and chief digital officer Andrew Walduck. 

Ms Holgate replaced Ahmed Fahour as Australia Post chief executive in October 2017.  His final take-home pay in 2017 was a staggering $10.8million. 

Australia Post also confirmed this week Ms Holgate would continue receiving her salary — worth $27,000 per week — while she is stood down during the investigation.   

Ms Holgate - who earns $2.6million a year - gave four Cartier watches to well-paid bosses as a reward for clinching a deal to do banking at post offices in 2018 (stock image) 

Luxury overseas hotels were also handed to executives from Australia Post (stock image)

The Weekend Australian also exposed further details of corporate spending by Australia Post employees.  

High-flying executives were reportedly using corporate boxes at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

Employees reportedly used the venues to take out family and friends, with one staff member said to have used a corporate box to watch an Adele music concert with family.    

In 2019, Ms Holgate was on a base salary of $1.4million but with bonuses, her chief executive remuneration swelled to $2.565million.

During her suspension, she will still pocket $110,000 a month, or the equivalent of $1.3million a year. 

Australia Post boss was grilled over  Cartier watches this week

Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching grills Ms Holgate in cross-examination after revealing top executives were 'awarded' watches. 

Senator Kitching: And what was that award?

Ms Holgate: They got watches.

Senator Kitching: And what were the watches?

Ms Holgate: They were a Cartier watch of about a value of $3,000 each.

Senator Kitching: Four people got Cartier. Do you remember the brand, the type? Was it a Cartier Tank? What was it?

Ms Holgate: I don't recall. I didn't actually purchase them. They were organised through my office on behalf of the Chair and I.

Senator Kitching: OK so just to be clear, the four people who received Cartier watches were Mr Starr. You received one, Ms Holgate?

Ms Holgate: No, I did not.

Senator Kitching: Do you, Ms Holgate, consider it appropriate to use taxpayers' money to buy Cartier watches for already highly-remunerated Australia Post executives?

Ms Holgate: I have not used taxpayers' money. We are a commercial organisation. We do not receive government funding. We are a commercial organisation.

Senator Kitching: It is a government organisation.

Ms Holgate: It was a recommendation from our Chair that these people get rewarded.

 . 

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