The head of the Australian Post said he would not have authorized the purchase of Cartier watches if he had been in charge two years earlier.
Chairman Lucio de Bartolomeo addressed a Senate hearing Monday evening, praising Christine Holgate, who resigned as CEO of Australia Post last week over an ongoing investigation into the purchase of luxury watches.
Ms Holgate was asked to step down as CEO by Scott Morrison after it was revealed that she had used the company credit card to purchase $ 12,000 worth of Cartier watches to give employees as a bonus two years ago.
Mr. de Bartolomeo told the hearing that he would not have allowed that to happen if he had been the President at the time.
“If I were president in 2018 and knew of the proposal to buy Cartier watches, I would be against this purchase,” he said.
“Although I greatly appreciate the excellent work of the staff involved … I acknowledge that the purchase of the watches may not have met the expectations of members of the public or my own.”
Mr de Bartolomeo said Australian Post is in a unique position, as a government business owned by taxpayers.
“I fully understand that our ownership structure places a unique responsibility to manage the resources of this business wisely and ultimately in the best interests of all Australians as major shareholders as well as clients,” he said.
Mr. de Bartolomeo said the Australia Post is working cooperatively with an ongoing investigation into watch purchase.
He also praised Holgate’s hard work in an “exceptional” year that included wildfires and the epidemic.
As the Christmas peak approaches, he said parcel volumes are expected to be nearly 50 percent higher compared to a year ago, which in itself was the largest peak the $ 7.5 billion state institution had seen.
Australia Post also hired and trained an additional 5,000 employees this year.
Holgate said in a statement that she accepted that Cartier’s watches “did not pass the pub test”.
“I deeply regret that the decision made two years ago, which the President endorsed, to recognize the outstanding work of four employees, has caused a lot of controversy and distraction, and I appreciate that the optics of the gifts in question do not pass the” pub test “she said” to many. “