Ousted Australia Post boss Christine Holgate has received a $1 million payout after her controversial downfall as chief executive over the Cartier watches scandal.
But the company – while saying it regrets her departure – has stopped short of an apology.
The government-owned corporation agreed to the payment after mediation with former Federal Court judge Peter Jacobson QC. It will also pay $100,000 of Ms Holgate’s legal costs.
“To finalise the matter so that both parties can move on, Ms Holgate has released Australia Post from all legal claims and Australia Post is making the payment without any admission of liability,” Australia Post said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Australia Post acknowledges that it has lost an effective CEO following the events on the morning of 22 October 2020.
“Australia Post regrets the difficult circumstances surrounding Ms Holgate’s departure from her role as CEO.
“Australia Post recognises and thanks Ms Holgate for her outstanding contribution and strong leadership during her employment as CEO of Australia Post.
“Australia Post wishes Ms Holgate the best in her future endeavours.”
Lawyers for Ms Holgate issued an identical statement on Wednesday.
Ms Holgate left Australia Post in November 2020 after a political storm erupted over the gifting of four Cartier watches worth a total of $20,000 to executives some years ago.
The gifts were to reward the senior managers for securing a $225 million deal benefiting Australia Post licensed post office operators. It came to light during a Senate committee hearing in 2020.
Ms Holgate claims she was bullied and unlawfully stood aside over the issue, but the Australia Post board and the government maintained that she had resigned.
Ms Holgate believes she was fired to “curry favour” with the federal government.
She has been particularly scathing of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who she said humiliated her when he launched into a tirade in a parliamentary question time, declaring if she did not wish to stand aside voluntarily “she can go”.
“I think it’s one of the worst acts of bullying I’ve ever witnessed,” Ms Holgate told the ABC’s 7.30 in April.
She wanted apologies from Mr Morrison and senior members of the Coalition government. Mr Morrison has said he regrets the hurt his parliamentary outburst caused Ms Holgate, but has stopped short of apologising to her.
In May, Ms Holgate took up a new job at parcel deliveries company Global Express as its new CEO. She will be charged with expanding its ecommerce sales and delivery operations, in competition with her old employer.
Australia Post’s statement said Ms Holgate wished the employees, partners and licensees of Australia Post her best wishes “as they strive every day to provide a vital and affordable service to all Australians no matter where they reside”.