Christine Holgate is an opportunist if ever there was one. She is playing the “Canberra Bubble” game to boost her seemingly upcoming unlawful “termination” (aka resignation) lawsuit off the back of the Brittany Higgins scandal. She is hoping to shakedown a feeble PM to apologise and settle.
Yet, judging by her own words and actions she was not up to the job of CEO of Australia Post. She was blind sided on Cartier watches by a Labor backbencher Kimberley Kitching in Senate Estimates and was incapable of defending her position afterwards. How that constitutes sexism I don’t know. How it became the Prime Minister’s sexist problem is even more baffling other than to say that empty vessels that shoot from the hip tend to be accident prone.
Holgate apparently felt humiliated to the point of suicide because she was asked to justify why taxpayers should foot the bill for Cartier watches gifted to employees for simply doing their job and who presumably could afford to buy their own watches given their bloated salaries of between $500,000 and $700,000 per year.
I would have thought that fronting tough questions in Senate Estimates was a core requirement of a CEO of Australia Post. That she preformed so poorly and allowed the contentious gift giving issue to escalate out of control says to me she was not up to the job.
That a bit of robust criticism caused her humiliation to the point of suicide says she is mentally fragile and also not up to the job. That she equates tough questioning holding her managerial decisions to account as bullying and sexist demonstrates she was always unfit to be CEO.
You don’t get paid $2.6m per year to be a fragile seat warmer. You can only justify that kind of salary because of the responsibility and accountability the role demands, including making the tough decisions, owning those decisions and fronting up to the critics. Christine Holgate failed on every level in the Cartier watch scandal and now blames the Australia Post Chairman and the Prime Minister for her own inadequacies.
Let’s be honest if you cannot hit SloMo for six off a short-break you can’t be very good. Here he was waxing lyrical about $5,000 watches while his government signed off on at least 919 performance bonuses to public servants in the same year worth the same or more. That would also have nailed Labor as I seriously doubt Labor would go against the Public Service Union and argue for an effective pay cut.
It was Christine Holgate’s job to defend and legitimise her decision to gift extravagant watches to very highly paid executives for simply doing their jobs. Holgate has, since the train wreck of Senate Estimates, tried exactly that albeit, too little too late, and not overly convincing, so now she plays the gender card. Its pathetic. She has only herself to blame.
The radical feminist movement (which Holgate now seemingly subscribes) is seeking to normalise any criticism of women as misogynistic bullying or harassment. This is ludicrous and is actually profoundly sexist and degrading to women. It denies women agency to control their own outcomes and futures. It condemns all women as snowflakes in need of protection. It is asking that women in leadership be given a free pass on accountability.
If this idea is given too much currency it will actually setback the career prospects of all women. Who would hire a female CEO on the basis she should be effectively immune from criticism, will likely fall apart if she is, and if you as chairman (i.e. male chair) exert your shareholder responsibilities will be smeared with a sexist bullying allegation? Better to just appoint a male. It will be interesting to see who hires Holgate next. In my opinion she has damaged her reputation badly by playing the gender card.
As a final comment I would say that the Cartier watch episode is symptomatic of a culture of greed and entitlement that pervades the upper echelons of corporate Australia and government that are seemingly in a crony partnership at the expense of citizens, taxpayers and consumers. Christine Holgate’s counterpart in the United States earns $300,000 not $2.7m and oversees a staff in excess of 600,000 compared to Australia Post’s 35,000. The executives gifted $5,000 watches also earned significantly more than the US Post Master General.
Australia has amongst the highest paid politicians and bureaucrats in the Western world and there is zero evidence (made abundantly plain during the pandemic) that this leads to better policy, better decision-making and hence better outcomes. Christine Holgate through her own inadequacy and poor judgment has exposed how out of touch most of Australia’s rent seeking elite actually are and embarrassed an equally inadequate and out of touch PM.