The federal government has published its previously unreleased report into former Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate’s decision to gift four luxury watches to staff members.
The report, released on Friday, found the gifting of the Cartier watches — worth almost $20,000 — to employees did not amount to corruption or fraud but was “inconsistent with public expectations”.
The report also reviewed documents linked to a set of corporate credit cards, which revealed there were other instances of dubious spending at Australia Post.
“Based on that preliminary review, there are potentially other instances of credit card usage that may be inconsistent with public expectations and Australia Post policies,” the report stated.
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“All such transactions are for lesser amounts than the amount expended on the watches.”
The board of Australia Post did not approve the purchase of the watches and none of the board members interviewed recalled any discussion about the gifts, the report also found.
Christine Holgate admitted in a Senate estimates hearing last October that the watches were awards for staff who had helped strike a deal with major banks for the Bank@Post program.
Following her admission to buying the watches, Prime Minister Scott Morison ordered Holgate to step down from her role and an inquiry was established.
The inquiry culminated in the report that was finished before Christmas, however, the government announced earlier this month it would not be publicly released.
The departure of Holgate from Australia Post angered many operators of licensed post offices across the country that were supportive the work she had done as chief executive.
Angela Cramp, executive director of the LPO Group, an association which represents thousands of post office operators, said Holgate’s departure was a significant step backwards.
Cramp told SmartCompany that Holgate had a strong understanding of the service provided by licensed post offices, and worked to address a number of issues affecting licensees, including banking services, underpayments and inter-business poaching of customers from LPOs.
“They have removed the best CEO Australia Post could ever have,” Cramp said.