News National Australia Post directors scoff at privatisation ‘beat-up’

Australia Post directors scoff at privatisation ‘beat-up’

australia post hearing
Acting CEO Rodney Boys appeared at the hearing in person, while board members appeared via videolink. Photo: AAP
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Australia Post’s directors have railed against claims privatising parcel deliveries was considered as pressure increases for the entire board to be sacked.

The posties’ union and a group representing post office licensees called for the board to be dumped and replaced on Tuesday at a Senate hearing.

A secret $1.3 million Boston Consulting Group report that raised selling off the parcels division was presented to the board in February 2020.

But deputy chair Michael Ronaldson – a former Liberal senator and Abbott government minister – said the board never discussed privatisation.

“You never let the truth interfere with a good story. This is a complete and utter beat-up,” he told the hearing.

“It’d have a snowflake’s chance in hell of getting up.”

Mr Ronaldson said the inquiry into former Australia Post boss Christine Holgate’s bitterly contested departure was trying to take scalps.

All board members agreed with chair Lucio Di Bartolomeo that Ms Holgate wasn’t owed an apology.

Communications Electrical Plumbing Union national secretary Greg Rayner said the BCG review presented a danger to 8000 jobs and 230 suburban post offices.

“If we’re going to fix the issues plaguing Australia Post the entire board needs to go,” he said.

Mr Rayner said the proposal would have been disastrous for regional communities, small business and families of postal workers.

“That this was to be the first step in breaking up Australia Post and selling parts of it to the private sector is now clear.”

Licensed Post Office Group executive director Angela Cramp agreed a broom should be put through the board and Mr Di Bartolomeo shown the door.

Ms Cramp believed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s furious rebuke of former Australia Post boss Christine Holgate in parliament was a “calculated set-up” rather than an overreaction.

The LPO Group came under fire for working with the Australian Citizens Party, which has links to anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories.

Former Queensland LNP president Bruce McIver, who became a director in December 2015, said privatisation hadn’t been talked about “by the full board”.

“We have not discussed privatisation at all. I for one would be against privatisation for regional and rural post offices or communities in Australia,” he said.

Tony Nutt, who was the Liberal Party’s former federal director and worked in senior roles for John Howard, didn’t appear due to illness.

He is now due to front the committee on Monday.

Mr Nutt was considered a crucial witness after an earlier hearing was told he had discussions with Ms Holgate on the day the luxury watches scandal exploded.

Fellow director Deidre Willmott launched on attack of media reporting of her work as a chief of staff to two Western Australian Liberal premiers.

“I have had a serious career and have worked on important issues with all sides of politics,” she said.

“Diminishing me as a political staffer is frankly sexist.”

Technical difficulties marred the hearing with the board members refusing to appear in person, despite the committee requesting their attendance in Canberra.

“What an absolute shambles this is,” committee chair and Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has ruled out selling Australia Post, while unions continue to demand the release of the BCG report.