News The key moments from Christine Holgate’s Senate testimony
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The key moments from Christine Holgate’s Senate testimony

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Dressed in suffragette white, armed with the words of a woman with nothing else to lose, former Australia Post boss Christine Holgate’s appearance at the Senate inquiry on Tuesday was nothing short of explosive. 

The inquiry examined Ms Holgate’s claims Australia Post chairman Lucio Di Bartolomeo stood her down unlawfully, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison in October declared she had to “go” for giving four senior executives Cartier watches as bonuses – worth a total of almost $20,000. 

Mr Di Bartolomeo has rejected these claims.

It was a day full of explosive allegations, which followed months of headlines.

Here are the key moments from Tuesday’s inquiry.

What she said

Why she said it

Ms Holgate claims she was unlawfully stood down by the chairman of Australia Post, after the PM told Parliament last year if she refused to stand aside during an investigation into the watches “then she can go”.

What she said

Why she said it

Mr Morrison initially declared giving the watches as gifts was “disgraceful”, but Ms Holgate was later cleared of misleading or misusing taxpayer funds. 

On Tuesday, Ms Holgate said she did not know why the PM had made the comment, but she believed she was forced to stand aside because he had “instructed” it.

Mr Di Bartolomeo later told the Senate inquiry she agreed to stand aside voluntarily. 

What she said

Why she said it

Ms Holgate sought to draw a link between allegations that cabinet ministers in Mr Morrison’s government have been accused of inappropriate behaviour toward women and still retained positions in the Liberal Party, while she lost her job. 

What she said

Why she said it

Ms Holgate stressed the watches had been given out two years before it was revealed in Senate Estimates, as a thank you for executives involved in the Bank@Post project.

The project was celebrated by franchisees, who say in many cases it saved their businesses – especially in regional Australia. 

What she said

Why she said it

Ms Holgate defended her choice of gifts, arguing it was not out of the ordinary for a CEO to give gifts or bonuses to executives who had worked hard. 

She argued she was being treated differently because of her gender. She pointed to “five-star luxury jaunts” to the 2012 Olympics, doled out by her predecessor, as an example of executive spending that was left uncriticised.

What she said

Why she said it

Ms Holgate said she also believed she “wasn’t popular” with Mr Di Bartolomeo and ministers because she opposed a confidential business strategy review conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, which argued Australia Post should be privatised. 

Labor senator Kim Carr, who was asking questions at the inquiry, said the report recommended up to 8000 job cuts, closing 190 post offices and a reduction in delivery standards.

What she said

Why she said it

During her appearance, Ms Holgate demanded Mr Di Bartolomeo, who appeared just hours after her, stand down from his post because he had misled Parliament when he said he had not read the review. 

She told the inquiry that Mr Di Bartolomeo had multiple copies of the report, met the consultants and attended a five-hour board meeting about its contents.

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