CANBERRA, AAP – Australia Post has lowered the limits on its corporate credit cards following its luxury watch scandal that resulted in its former boss resigning.
Christine Holgate quit as chief executive officer in November last year after it was revealed she spent almost $20,000 on Cartier watches to reward senior executives at the government-owned enterprise.
An internal review of the postal agency’s use of corporate credit cards, gifts, benefits and hospitality policies resulted in 32 findings.
Acting chief Rodney Boys said 26 of those had been implemented, with the rest to occur in due course.
A number of credit cards have been removed, limits have been lowered on others and the CEO’s office no longer has one.
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Mr Boys said the limits had been lowered “considerably” in recent months, but did not detail the figures.
“We have emerged from 2020 with an enhanced awareness of what Australians expect of us, having recently made changes to ensure the more effective, efficient, economical and ethical use of public resources,” he told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra on Tuesday.
Australia Post chair Lucio Di Bartolomeo conceded Ms Holgate did not want to stand aside when the issue first arose in October last year.
“We advised her that we wished her to stand aside while this investigation took place – she was clearly reluctant to do so initially,” he told senators.
“But over a number of discussions she ultimately agreed late that afternoon that she would stand aside.”
Ms Holgate eventually wrote to the board in November to offer her resignation.
A government report into the matter found the Australia Post board did not approve the purchase of the Cartier watches, which happened in 2018.
Ms Holgate said she had discussed the purchase with then-chair John Stanhope.
“That’s a matter in dispute,” Mr Di Bartolomeo said.
He told senators Ms Holgate received her annual leave entitlements when she resigned, explaining there was no other severance package.
“Not even a watch?” quipped Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie.
Mr Boys also updated senators on Australia Post’s record parcel deliveries in November and December, when 86 million parcels were delivered.
The coronavirus pandemic led to a surge in package volumes and a huge decline in the number of letters.
There has been a reduction in injuries and incidents from motorcycle deliveries, because they are being used less by posties.