‘Calculated set-up’: Shock PM claim

An inquiry has heard explosive claims of a “calculated set-up” against Christine Holgate, who says she was humiliated and bullied out of her job.

Scott Morrison has been accused of a “calculated set-up” against Christine Holgate and faces demands to reinstate the former Australia Post CEO.

Ms Holgate left her role in November after revelations four senior executives had been gifted Cartier watches, costing around $20,000 in total.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison lashed the gifts as “disgraceful” in October and said Ms Holgate had been ordered to stand aside.

“If she doesn’t wish to do that, she can go,” he told parliament.

But Licensed Post Office Group CEO Angela Cramp told a Senate inquiry on Tuesday that she believed the Prime Minister’s intervention was a “calculated set-up”.

RELATED: Holgate says she was humiliated by PM Morrison

“I believe the Prime Minister needed a leading lady to keep the media happy,” she said.

“I believe Christine Holgate was not part of the plan, and it was best for them to move her on.”

The watches were gifted to key players in a lucrative deal between Australia Post and three major banks, signed in 2018.

Ms Cramp estimated the agreement was worth $220m in additional revenue, claiming it “saved us from financial ruin”.

“(That was) capital we believe the government itself should have been investing into our post offices to fund it, community service obligations,” she said.

She revealed the watches amounted to roughly $7.50 per post office.

“We totally reject the notion that it was wasted taxpayers’ money … Cartier watches are not worth the best CEO that Australia Post ever had,” she said.

In explosive testimony to a Senate committee this month, Ms Holgate said the Prime Minister’s intervention was a “humiliation” and amounted to a dismissal.

The government has insisted she quit of her own volition.

Australia Post board member Michael Ronaldson said the saga was sparked by questions from Labor senator Kimberley Kitching.

He denied Mr Morrison had determined Ms Holgate’s fate.

“Yes, we took into account the views of the Prime Minister. But we also took into account the views of Senator Kitching, we also put in account the views of (Labor leader) Mr Albanese,” he said.

Australia Post chairman Lucio Di Bartolomeo said he only intended for Ms Holgate to step aside temporarily as an investigation was launched into the gifts.

Ms Cramp said post office licensees felt “genuinely acknowledged for the first time in our history” under Ms Holgate and called for the former CEO to be reinstated.

“Under Christine Holgate, we started being paid fairly for the work we were doing, shops received investments, and for the first time in years, we could pay our bills and sleep at night.”

She said post office licensees had “lost all confidence” in the board and agreed with Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young that “there needs to be a broom put through the board”.

But Mr Di Bartolomeo he played down the chances of Ms Holgate’s return.

“We would have wanted this not to have occurred at all,” he said.

“But it did, the circumstances have passed and we’ve moved on. We have a new CEO in place, and Australia Post needs to move on.”

Read related topics:Scott Morrison

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