Hundreds of Australia Post’s senior staff have been paid generous bonuses worth far more than the Cartier watches that led to the departure of Christine Holgate.
According to the data provided by Australia Post in response to a Senate estimates question on notice, 345 senior employees were paid $28.2m in bonuses in the 2019-20 financial year.
That is an average bonus of nearly $82,000 for senior managers earning over $200,000 a year, or the equivalent of about 16 Cartier watches, based on the average price Holgate paid for each of the expensive timepieces.
According to the data, more than 37,000 Australia Post staff earning under $200,000 a year received a share of $63.4m in bonuses.
Last year, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, said he was shocked and appalled at the then CEO Holgate buying four Cartier watches costing an average of $5,000 each in 2018.
Australia Post settled with Holgate over her departure from the organisation earlier this month, paying the former boss $1.1m including legal fees.
Labor’s shadow assistant minister for government services, senator Kimberley Kitching, said the communications minister, Paul Fletcher, “seems incapable of getting board members to crack the whip on executive bonuses.”
A spokesperson for Australia Post said the payments were benchmarked externally and must remain competitive to attract and retain staff.
“It reflects their responsibilities, performance, qualifications and experience,” the spokesperson said.
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“Australia Post’s senior managers are paid performance-based remuneration and are eligible for an ‘at-risk’ short-term incentive component. Senior managers are only rewarded when delivering performance that is aligned to the Australia Post strategy, helping to create long-term value and strong financial returns to the government.”
The spokesperson said no one on the executive team received bonuses in that year, and the chart provided to the Senate notes the eight executives on over $600,000 a year did not receive bonuses.
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The Australian National Audit Office has flagged it will consider reviewing the governance of bonuses for government business entities such as Australia Post. Labor wrote to the ANAO in July calling for the office to review the $78m in bonuses paid to NBN staff in the 2019-20 financial year.
The auditor general, Grant Hehir, responded he would consider including NBN in the audit if the review goes ahead.
Fletcher’s office has been contacted for comment.