Flat White

Judgement time

23 October 2020

11:30 AM

23 October 2020

11:30 AM

When does an error in judgement cost someone their job? It depends.   

If it is Gladys Berejiklian, you are safe. If it is Laura Tingle, you are safe. But what about Christine Holgate, Australia’s Postmaster in Chief? 

It was reported yesterday that Holgate gave ‘luxury’ watches as presents to a number of her senior staff as a reward for completing a task. Total cost of $12,000 for four watches. 

To start with, what an idiotic thing to do. To give (relatively) cheap Cartier watches to her already highly paid staff. Where are the IWCs and the Patek Philippes? Even downmarket with Rolex. Surely Holgate would recognise the insult in giving such cheap presents to her highly paid executives. 

Adding insult to idiocy, the watches were not personal presents paid from Holgate’s $2.7 million annual salary. No. They were paid for by Australia Post. And clearly understanding political spin, Holgate defended the gifts by claiming that “(Holgate) have not used taxpayers’ money. We are a commercial organisation. We do not receive government funding. 

Except Australia Post is a statutory monopoly of an essential service which is 100% owned by Australian taxpayers and which made a $68 million loss last year which was, actually, a loss to the taxpayers. Ooops, Christine. 

But whose judgement is worse?  The judgement of Christine Holgate, the Australia Post CEO or the judgement of John Stanhope, the former Australia Post Chairman who got dumped into it by Holgate who said “It was a recommendation from our chair that these people get rewarded”.  Stanhope’s judgement was never in question in given Holgate her $2.7 million salary nor giving former Australia Post CEO Ahmed Fahour his $5.6 million salary.

Perhaps it is the judgement of Prime Minister Morrison whose attention has been piqued by a $12,000 expenditure on watches but apparently not the expenditure on sports grants, submarines, the NBN and the other billions upon billions of commonwealth government profligate wasteful spending. 

Judgement. The universal get out of jail card. Perhaps the moral to the story is that the smaller the scandal the higher the penalty.  

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