April 1, 2023

Australia Post chairman rejects Christine Holgate’s claims – as it happened

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9.44am BST

It’s been a huge day – here’s what you need to know:

9.11am BST

The Australia Post chairman, Lucio Di Bartolomeo, has issued a statement contradicting much of what former CEO Christine Holgate submitted to the Senate inquiry about her removal for the gift of $20,000 of Cartier watches to senior executives.

The central disagreement is whether Di Bartolomeo “unlawfully” stood Holgate down. Holgate claims she offered to take annual leave pending an investigation but resisted standing aside; Di Bartolomeo claims she stood aside voluntarily and therefore Holgate’s claim that she was “unlawfully” stood down was not correct.

The agreement for Ms Holgate to stand aside was reached between myself and Ms Holgate in telephone discussions late that afternoon, in breaks during a board meeting that commenced at approximately 4pm. The board did not stand down, or suspend, Ms Holgate from her role – that being an unnecessary consideration given her agreement to stand aside.

Ms Holgate claims that she did not speak with me that afternoon at all after question time (the relevant parts of which occurred between approximately 2.30pm and 2.40pm). However, phone records support my recollection – including that we had conversations at 4:27pm and 5.50pm on that day.

Ms Holgate claims that I made a counter-offer which would have prevented her from working for 12 months without pay. That is not correct. The existing provisions of Ms Holgate’s contract of employment contained non-compete provisions, as is common for such senior executive roles. These provisions apply only to working for a competitor for a period of six months from the end of Ms Holgate’s employment – and therefore expire on 2 May 2021.

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