News Christine Holgate accuses Australia Post chair of lying in Cartier watches saga

Christine Holgate accuses Australia Post chair of lying in Cartier watches saga

Australia Post's Christine Holgate admitted $12,000 spent on designer watches Photo: AAP
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Former Australia Post boss Christine Holgate has taken aim at chair Lucio Di Bartolomeo, accusing him of lying to Parliament about the Cartier watches saga.

In a lengthy submission released on Tuesday, Ms Holgate says Prime Minister Scott Morrison humiliated her when condemning her in Parliament for giving the watches to four senior executives in November 2018 as a reward for clinching a banking deal.

But she reserved her harshest criticism for Mr Di Bartolomeo, suggesting he treated her “like a criminal” and blaming him solely for being forced out of the top job.

Ms Holgate alleges the chair unlawfully stood her down and failed to defend her despite knowing the facts of the case.

Australia Post chair Lucio Di Bartolomeo at Senate Estimates in Canberra on March 23. Photo: AAP

“He lied repeatedly to the Australian people and to their Parliament about his actions,” she wrote in a 154-page Senate inquiry submission containing emails, photos of cards and a letter to her lawyers.

“Time after time he has made statements that I had agreed to stand down when I had done no such thing.

“He then abandoned me to a media firestorm that he and others had created and cut me off from resources, despite knowing that these events had caused me to seek mental health care and medication.”

The former Blackmores executive says the watches were purchased legally, with the transaction signed off and approved by then-chairman John Stanhope, auditors and Australia Post’s chief financial officer.

“(It was) widely celebrated within the organisation, and presented at a morning tea by the previous chairman and me with a thank you card signed by both of us,” she wrote.

“It was then found to be legal by the ‘review’, which was clearly intended to find it otherwise.”

Mr Di Bartolomeo told an inquiry in November he would have blocked the purchase of the luxury watches if he was in charge when the gifts were doled out.

But Ms Holgate alleges his Senate hearing evidence was “seriously misleading” and even prompted her to write to the Australia Post board, ministers and Maddocks Lawyers asking them to address her concerns.

“But they have chosen not to; yet at no time has anyone denied my feedback was correct,” she said.

“It is unacceptable that the chair of a major public-owned enterprise can mislead the Senate over his knowledge of something as important as a review of the organisation commissioned by the government.”

Ms Holgate went on to imply she was still technically employed by Australia Post after rejecting Mr Di Bartolomeo’s resignation offer.

She claims the proposal would have left her with no severance pay, unable to work for 12 months and gagged from speaking out about Australia Post in perpetuity.

“To this date, I have signed no deed of release with Australia Post, despite my many requests to resolve this matter.”