Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will call on Australia Post’s board to reconsider the $5.6 million pay packet awarded to managing director Ahmed Fahour.
The multi-million dollar salaries of senior executives were revealed by a Senate committee on Tuesday, with the committee dismissing claims the move would result in “unwarranted media attention” and “brand damage”.
Committee chairman Senator James Paterson said documents showed Mr Fahour received a $4.4 million salary and a $1.2 million bonus last financial year, taking his total package to $5.6 million.
That salary is more than 10 times more than the $522,000 Mr Turnbull is paid.
“I think that salary, that remuneration is too high,” Mr Turnbull told reporters on Wednesday.
As someone who has spent most of his life in the business world before coming into politics, I think that’s a very big salary for that job.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
Labor’s Doug Cameron also called for the salary to be lowered, saying he did not believe it was deserved.
“I just can’t for the life of me understand why any public servant would be paid over $5 million,” he said.
“I have appeared in estimates with Australia Post and I can’t see over $5 million worth of value of any individual.”
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said she was “absolutely disgusted” by the scale of the pay cheques.
“$5.6 million — $1.2 million in one bonus — I think it’s disgusting,” she said.
South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon said many people would “scratch their heads” given Mr Fahour earned more than the Prime Minister.
“That’s a lot of postage stamps — I’ve got to do the calculation,” he said.
“What I have balked at, and something I have agitated for, is the fact that these were meant to be secret.
“I think it’s wrong. There must be transparency.”
Australia Post not trying to hide anything: chairman
The documents — which do not name Australia Post staff — reveal another five executives received between $1.3 million and $1.8 million a year, and one claimed a $380,000 retirement benefit.
The committee asked Australia Post to detail the salaries last year, after it ceased publishing such information after its 2014-15 annual report.
The government-owned business then wrote to Senator Paterson in January to claim there was no public interest justification for disclosing the salaries.
Australia Post’s chairman John Stanhope denied trying to cover up the information.
“There’s been no intended secrecy or lack of transparency,” he told the ABC’s AM program.
“When we report remuneration, we’re required to follow government guidelines and we’ve reported it every year as required.
“The Senate asked a question on notice and we responded and gave them all the information.”
Mr Stanhope also defended Mr Fahour’s remuneration.
“That number, it has his base salary, it’s got some short-term incentives which he earned because the company went from loss to profit in the ’16 year, it also includes his superannuation. It’s everything,” he said.
“It is a government business enterprise, that is true, but it isn’t actually taxpayer-funded, it’s self-funded, so it generates profit and generates its own cash.”
Mr Stanhope said 73 per cent of Australia Post’s revenue and all of its profit came from the parcels business, where it competes against multinational firms such as DHL, FedEx and Toll.
“It’s a very competitive business and we need to pay competitive salaries,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Australia Post said the company had paid “more than $6.3 billion in dividends and taxes to the Federal Government” since 2007.