The boss of Australia Post has come under fire for an extraordinary push to have Pauline Hanson stubby holders delivered to public housing residents in locked-down Melbourne.
The July 11 email came from Australia Post’s top lawyer Nick Macdonald, with Ms Holgate CC’d in. It read:
“Please confirm by 4pm today that the parcels have been distributed to the addresses. If we do not receive confirmation, we will consider what further steps are necessary to deal with this situation – including whether it is appropriate to notify the police or other relevant authorities.”
The stubby holders were emblazoned with Senator Hanson’s face and the slogan “I’ve got the guts to say what you’re thinking” along with a hand-written note saying “no hard feelings”, Nine mastheads reported.
Talk about a storm in a stubby cooler! -PH
— Pauline Hanson 🇦🇺 (@PaulineHansonOz) September 10, 2020
A statement released by Australia Post on Thursday afternoon said that “Ms Holgate did not speak to Senator Hanson or One Nation on this matter, nor did she threaten Melbourne City Council, with whom she has a valued relationship and holds in high regard”.
A significant proportion of residents of the locked-down residents targeted in the Queensland senator’s unsolicited mail-out are of Islamic faith.
Senator Hanson has a history of taunting the Muslim community with disrespectful pranks, including in 2017 when she donned a burqa in federal parliament.
Then-Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, who identifies as a non-practising Muslim, slammed the stunt as “hurtful, offensive and wrong”.
There are now questions over whether the unsolicited parcels delivered to locked-down residents were in breach of Australia Post’s own delivery standards.
“This question was not considered by Australia Post. The articles were sealed when delivered to authorised officers at the site control centre,” a spokesperson for the firm told The New Daily.
Australia Post “prohibits in all services unsolicited material that advises, notifies or advertises the existence or availability of indecent or offensive material”, the firm’s delivery guide reads.
The union representing postal workers in Victoria described Australia Post’s decision to intervene in pushing the delivery of Ms Hanson’s unsolicited stubby holders to locked-down tower residents is “astonishing” and “odd”.
Instead of concentrating on delivering stubby holders, Australia Post bosses should have been focusing on addressing ongoing parcel backlogs, Communications Workers Union Victorian state secretary Leroy Lazaro told The New Daily.
The New Daily put questions to Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, asking whether Ms Holgate’s intervention was appropriate, and whether he endorsed Senator Hanson’s move to send unsolicited stubby holders to locked-down tower residents.
“Australia Post’s day to day operations are the responsibility of its board and management,” a spokesperson for Mr Fletcher said.
“Inquiries on operational matters and meeting relevant legal obligations should be directed to Australia Post.”
Ms Holgate has “serious questions to answer” following the “bizarre and disturbing revelations that she intervened to help Pauline Hanson send divisive material to public tower residents in lockdown in Melbourne”, Labor’s spokesman for multicultural affairs Andrew Giles said.
“Senator Hanson’s wrong and hateful remarks about public housing tenants saw her get sacked from morning TV,” Mr Giles said.
“At the same time, Australia Post was prepared to help Hanson add injury to insult to vulnerable people, while they were battling coronavirus.”
Ms Holgate has been previously accused of misrepresenting figures to justify Australia Post’s coronavirus service cuts, which were granted by the Morrison government in April, but were subject to a Senate inquiry last month.
Ms Holgate urged politicians to support the temporary regulatory relief in order to allow Australia Post to shift its focus from letters to parcels, and protect the firm from a coronavirus-related financial hit.
However, instead of finding itself in dire straits, Australia Post has been one of the few businesses to benefit from the COVID-19 crisis, reaping a financial windfall thanks to a massive surge in online shopping and associated delivery demand.
The Opposition party has accused Ms Holgate and the Morrison government of conspiring to do a “dodgy deal” with Ms Hanson to push delivery service cuts requested by Australia Post through Parliament in August.