Former Australia Post CEO Christina Holgate has received a $1 million “termination payment” by her former employer, drawing the bitter legal dispute between both parties to an expensive conclusion.
In a joint statement shared on Wednesday, AusPost and Holgate’s legal team stated the government-owned company will also cover $100,000 of her legal costs accrued through the stoush.
“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,” the statement reads.
The out-of-court payment was finalised after mediation from former Federal Court justice Peter Jacobson QC.
The million-dollar payout is the conclusion to a highly publicised battle between high-ranking AusPost officials and Holgate, who departed as CEO in late 2020 after allegedly overseeing an improper cash splash on gifts for Australia Post employees.
Claims that Holgate was involved in the purchase of four Cartier watches for $12,000, a figure later revised to $20,000, captivated the press, and resulted in a withering public rebuke from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Those luxury perks for Australia Post executives, who secured a lucrative deal with some of Australia’s largest banks, were “disgraceful and not on”, Morrison said in October.
Holgate offered to stand aside during an internal investigation, which ultimately found the watches were not an illegal expense.
But after tabling an explosive 150-plus-page submission to a Parliamentary enquiry discussing the matter, Holgate claimed the Cartier expenditure was in line with past Australia Post policy, and suggested she was actually forced out of the role for opposing a secretive review which called for widespread job cuts.
“We are silenced,” Holgate told the inquiry. “We are told very clearly that we are not allowed to speak on it.”
Australia Post Chair Lucio Di Bartolomeo has rejected claims the company’s board considered privatising elements of its parcel services.
A report handed down by the inquiry found the Australia Post board, Morrison, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, and Finance Minister Simon Birmingham should “apologise to Ms Holgate for denying her the legal principles of procedural fairness and natural justice.”
In the Wednesday statement, Australia Post withheld any claims of liability towards Holgate, while commending her for her service.
“Australia Post acknowledges that it has lost an effective CEO,” the statement reads, praising her “outstanding contribution and strong leadership during her employment.”