As pillars of probity, ASIC pair should know better

Today in The Australian


Whether Christine Holgate, the CEO of Australia Post, acted properly in distributing designer watches to the senior executives who had secured a major contract will be determined by the inquiries that are now under way. But whether she acted wisely is another question.

About Henry Ergas

Henry Ergas AO is a columnist for The Australian. From 2009 to 2015 he was Senior Economic Adviser to Deloitte Australia and from 2009 to 2017 was Professor of Infrastructure Economics at the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility. He joined SMART and Deloitte after working as a consultant economist at NECG, CRA International and Concept Economics. Prior to that, he was an economist at the OECD in Paris from the late 1970s until the early 1990s. At the OECD, he headed the Secretary-General’s Task Force on Structural Adjustment (1984-1987), which concentrated on improving the efficiency of government policies in a wide range of areas, and was subsequently Counsellor for Structural Policy in the Economics Department. He has taught at a range of universities, undertaken a number of government inquiries and served as a Lay Member of the New Zealand High Court. In 2016, he was made an Officer in the Order of Australia.
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26 Responses to As pillars of probity, ASIC pair should know better

  1. notafan

    Auspost is a disgrace. Look hard at parcel delivery subcontracting. Its third world standard. Senior nabobs have bad habit of thinking themselves to be extra special.

  2. Nob

    They’re shit but the watch thing is a beat up.

  3. Tom

    The arrival of online shopping and the cash cow of online shipping means there is now ZERO excuse* for a dinosaur like Australia Post to be government-owned.

    Privatise it and force the fat, lazy bureaucrats in charge to go and get real jobs.

    *Just as there is no excuse for government ownership of broadcast collectives immune from competition or accountability when there has never been so much competition for online-broadcast eyeballs/ears in the news space. Privatise the ABC and SBS, whose only mission is to subvert the popular will.

  4. Entropy

    No government agency should have bonuses. Full stop.
    No government agency should pretend its executives should be paid the equivalent of private sector salaries. Full stop.
    They enjoy the protections of government service, even in a GOC, not available to anyone else. Full stop.
    They should be there to serve the people, nit themselves. Full stop.

  5. Des Deskperson

    MrErgas effectively sums up the Holgate hoo-hah:

    “Assuming the decision was consistent with Australia Post’s remuneration policies, it is hard to see how it could have been improper”.

    Exactly. My understanding is the the APC’s remuneration policy encompasses both cash and other rewards and extends to front-line workers. This policy may or may not be fair, effective and/or justified by APS’s business model, but there is no evidence of any impropriety. Morrison’s clumsy and vindictive populism is disappointing, to say the least.

  6. duncanm

    Nob ++

    Sure – it may look bad for the people getting shit mail service, but what, exactly, is the problem?

    Executives get bonuses. Sometimes they’re glittery things. So what?

    Did this witch hunt to get Holgate arise because she (quite rightly) had the balls to stand up to that woke melbourne council who wanted to block some mail they didn’t like (Pauline Hanson’s stubbie coolers)?

  7. duncanm

    .. or is a distraction squirrel from the Badgery’s airport land fiasco/slush/corruption?

  8. Papachango

    The watches thing is overblown- many corporates and govt departments have done far worse. Look at Metro Trains and the dodgy cleaning contract or Unified Security.

    But by all accounts Holgate seems to be a bit of a psycho manager and the flashy number plates on her chauffeur driven Range Rover shows she’s not really in touch with employees.

    Hate to sound sexist but I’m come across many senior female execs like her in my corporate career. Obviously not all female leaders are like this – the vast majority aren’t, but there is a certain stereotype you see fairly frequently. The ones that get to the top in a usually male dominated industry, by acting even more masculine and bullying. Kind of the corporate equivalent of a Karen with lots of power. They’re often tall and/or blonde too. If you get on their bad side (which can happen in a second though no fault of your own) they’re frankly dangerous…

    Much as I’m a huge fan of the way she’s kept Dan Andrews to account, Peta Credlin is another example of the stereotype. She would have been hell to work for…

  9. duncanm

    From their annual report, their standard executive pay mix is 59% fixed pay, 31% ‘short term incentive’ (shiny watches etc). So.. again, what’s the problem?

    I bet they blew a whole lot more dough on their woke causes. Check out pages 21-24.

    We are committed to addressing the crime of Modern Slavery

    .. and more nuggets scattered throughout the report like floaters in a bowl.

    – HAZARA WOMEN LEARNING TO DRIVE
    – KEEPING OLD CLOTHES OUT OF LANDFILL

  10. Ben

    Of course this all happened in 2018, the same year that the ABC handed out millions of dollars in tax payer funded bonuses to their already highly paid staff. Not that the ABC mention this when they talk about the watches rort or saga or whatever they’re calling this one.

  11. 2dogs

    They’re shit but the watch thing is a beat up.

    This is about more than just the watches.

    The Australia Post CEO currently earns $2.5 million / year.

    By comparison, the US postmaster general, with about 10 times the population of Australia, earns less than $300,000 USD / year.

  12. duncanm

    2dgos – right, its disgusting.

    So how about the shareholders (err.. that’d be us, via the government), pressure the board to cut these salaries?

  13. Papachango

    We are committed to addressing the crime of Modern Slavery

    Under the terms of the Modern Slavery Act 2018 they, like all organisations with over $100 mil revenue, have a legal obligation to issue annual statements containing such platitudes

  14. duncanm

    Papachango
    #3637484, posted on October 30, 2020 at 10:31 am

    Under the terms of the Modern Slavery Act 2018 they, like all organisations with over $100 mil revenue

    FMD – what a WOFTAM.

  15. EvilElvis

    Morrison’s clumsy and vindictive populism is disappointing, to say the least.

    If it was committed and vindictive populism I’d be happier. The fucking PS needs reigning in big time at every level.

  16. papachango

    Under the terms of the Modern Slavery Act 2018 they, like all organisations with over $100 mil revenue

    FMD – what a WOFTAM.

    It’s well-meaning but entirely tokenistic – basically designed to make big organizations say what they’re doing to avoid buying things that have forced labour inputs somewhere in the supply chain. As everyone is busy asking their stationery suppliers exactly who makes each pen, it’s created a bit of a cottage industry of independent risk rating agencies.

  17. old bloke

    I just wish that they would deliver stuff in a timely manner.

  18. Spurgeon Monkfish III

    I just wish that they would deliver stuff in a timely manner.

    Delivering things to the correct address would also help.

  19. NuThink

    old bloke
    #3637638, posted on October 30, 2020 at 12:49 pm
    I just wish that they would deliver stuff in a timely manner.

    Maybe Cartier watches should be given to each postie! Or maybe even a Rolex so they know just how late they are in delivery.
    I waited for an express post item the whole day. Went down to the post box in the evening and there was a card in it which said no one was home and so please pickup from the Post Office.

    As I was home and waiting, I felt that it was quicker for the postie to just fill out the card and drop it in the mailbox rather than walk up the driveway to the front door. Saves a lot of time for the postie – or the contractor.

  20. liliana

    Entropy
    #3637356, posted on October 30, 2020 at 8:49 am

    I think your comment sums up the situation perfectly.

    The problem with Australia Post is that the incentive is to make a profit not deliver the mail. So they spend their time with ancillary projects like banking service while their core business heads south. With increased technology and automation how can the service be worse than twenty years ago? Something is going very wrong.

  21. Spurgeon Monkfish III

    With increased technology and automation how can the service be worse than twenty years ago?

    Exactly. There’s your sole reason why Ozzie Post shouldn’t exist, in a nutshell.

  22. Rockdoctor

    Constantly losing mail, constantly delivering to the wrong address, as described above the parcel delivery arm is a mess etc… I’ve had it happen to me more than once, had a chat with family most of them same. Sent a letter to Townsville now nearly 10 business days ago as of today, still not there. They say with their inflated times 5 business days (Used to be 3). Not tracked so I assume it is lost.

    Holgate irritates me because she like those bungling fools with their video in Victoria think they are kicking goals with their hand shandies to each other. IMO this comment hits the nail on the head: With increased technology and automation how can the service be worse than twenty years ago? Something is going very wrong.

  23. Crossie

    My understanding is the the APC’s remuneration policy encompasses both cash and other rewards and extends to front-line workers. This policy may or may not be fair, effective and/or justified by APS’s business model, but there is no evidence of any impropriety. Morrison’s clumsy and vindictive populism is disappointing, to say the least.

    Holgate’s judgment is almost non-existent. She might have anticipated that at some point Cartier watches would have caught someone’s attention. Had she allocated the same monetary value in cash bonuses it would not even have raised eyebrows. So many smart people are not smart at all.

  24. Crossie

    Papachango
    #3637484, posted on October 30, 2020 at 10:31 am
    We are committed to addressing the crime of Modern Slavery

    Under the terms of the Modern Slavery Act 2018 they, like all organisations with over $100 mil revenue, have a legal obligation to issue annual statements containing such platitudes

    Yet none of them have a problem with their contractors or subcontractors paying their workers slave wages.

  25. Papachango

    Yet none of them have a problem with their contractors or subcontractors paying their workers slave wages.

    The legal definition of Modern Slavery actually excludes underpaying people. While that’s illegal in Australia, for it to be Modern Slavery there has to be an element of coercion involved (forced labour, deceptive recruitment, debt bondage, confiscated passports etc)

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