- The Prime Minister has ordered the CEO of Australia Post to stand aside amid an investigation into the gifting of lavish watches to top executives
- Scott Morrison fired up in Parliament after it was revealed in a Senate hearing that four senior leaders within the postal office were gifted Cartier watches
- Aus Post Chief Executive Christine Holgate has defended the purchase, stating the executives needed to be rewarded for "an inordinate amount of work"
- Holgate also argued the watches weren't bought using tax-payer funds, though Aus Post is a Government-owned business
- The hearing revealed $12,000 was spent gifting the watches, as well as $840,000 on indoor plants
- Aus Post is being investigated for its use of tax-payer funds amid concerns it was spending too freely and failing to keep up with postage demand
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has ordered Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate to stand aside after it was revealed executives had been gifted lavish watches.
The PM is also calling for an independent inquiry into the decision to buy four of the company's senior leaders a $3000 Cartier watch.
"I was appalled and it is disgraceful and not on," Scott Morrison said in Question Time today.
"So, immediately, I spoke with ministers and from those discussions, decided that there had to be an independent investigation done by the Department, not by Australia Post, and that the Chief Executive should stand aside immediately," he added.
"We are the shareholders of Australia Post on behalf of the Australian people, is that the action was immediate, and if the Chief Executive wished to stand aside, she has been instructed to stand aside, if she doesn’t wish to do that, she can go," the PM concluded.
The fired-up speech from the Prime Minister comes after it was revealed earlier today during a Senate hearing that $12,000 had been spent gifting the luxury watches.
Along with the gifts, it's also been revealed that Australia Post spent over $840,000 on indoor plants during 2018 to 2020.
The hearing today is investigating concerns the postal business is spending too freely, while also failing to keep up with postage demand.
Aus Post has halved the number of mail deliveries it makes to the metro areas as it tries to deal with the increased number of package deliveries during COVID-19.
Chief Executive Christine Holgate has been grilled over the company's performance and spending habits.
She explained the designer watch purchases were deemed necessary as they were a reward for the leaders' work in securing a bank deal.
"There were a small number of senior people who put in an inordinate amount of work and they did receive an award from the chair, myself, and on behalf of the board," she said.
"We are a commercial organisation. It was a recommendation from our chair that these people get rewarded," she added.
The Australia Post leader also denied using tax-payer funds to purchase the luxury watches.
"I have not used taxpayer money. We do not receive government funding. We are a commercial organisation," Christine argued.
However, Australia Post is owned by the Federal Government and the business falls under the Communications and Finance departments.
Labor’s communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland criticised Holgate's performance and urged the Morrison Government to act.
"Australia Post is a cherished national institution and it must set a high standard," she said.
"Today’s evidence that $12,000 was used on luxury watches does not meet that test," Michelle added.