Ex-Australia Post boss Christine Holgate ‘disappointed’ government won’t meet mediation deadline

Holgate has given the government and former employer until Wednesday to accept offer to discuss her claims that she was ‘bullied’ out job

Former Australia Post boss Christine Holgate is weighing up the next steps in her legal action against the government and her former employer, after a mediation deadline looks set to pass with no action.

Holgate, through her lawyers, released a statement ahead of the latest Senate committee hearing into the circumstances of her departure from Australia Post, saying the offer to mediate her claims would expire at 5pm on Wednesday.

Holgate resigned from Australia Post following two weeks of furore over revelations, raised in Senate estimates in October 2020, that she had used Australia Post funds to gift four executives Cartier watches as a thank you for their work on the [email protected] program in 2018. She claims she was “bullied” out of her job and left with no choice but to resign, something the government and the Australia Post board vehemently deny.

“We have been advised the government requires more time to consider the offer to mediate and that Australia Post will not be able to meet the deadline,” the statement said.

“It is very disappointing to Ms Holgate that it appears neither the government nor Australia Post have been able to prioritise an amicable resolution of this matter.

“Particularly as they are very aware of the ongoing damage this matter causes my client and in light of the fact that it took them only hours to unlawfully stand her down.”

In her statement, Holgate said she would make a decision once she had read the Senate committee’s report into the matter, which is due to be handed down on 17 May.

The Australia Post board chair, Lucio Di Bartolomeo, told the committee he had been happy to participate in mediation, but the turnaround was too tight. He said the board was unaware of the detail of Holgate’s claims.

Holgate had originally said she would not be seeking financial compensation when she resigned from Australia Post, but later said she was considering her options, claiming she had been “unlawfully” stood aside by the board.

Holgate maintains she never agreed to stand aside. Di Bartolomeo is equally as adamant she had agreed to resign. It is one of many bitterly contested facts between Holgate and the board, along with her contention it was her opposition to privatising Australia Post that contributed to her downfall.

Di Bartolomeo and the board, as well as the government, have continued to deny there are any plans to privatise Australia Post, or parts of Australia Post, as outlined in a previously secret Boston Consulting Group report Holgate made partially public in her submission to the Senate inquiry.

Former Liberal party president and a non-executive Australia Post board member Tony Nutt appeared at the committee on Monday to give evidence, and said there were no plans to privatise the service, a concept he called “bad public policy”.

“If you try and privatise Australia Post, you’ll be in deep doo-doo,” he said.

Nutt also refuted claims he had been “running the show” and said his conversations with Holgate had come at her request for advice and support following the 22 October Senate estimate hearings.

“I can assure you that if I had been directing events, the wretched watches wouldn’t have been bought two and a half years ago,” Nutt said, adding that some of the other expenses would also not have passed muster.

Nutt said it was his understanding Holgate had offered to stand aside, but said she did not tell him that directly.

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