An controversial probe into Australia Post executives following an expenses scandal involving $12,000 worth of Cartier watches could remain secret.
The revelations of taxpayers’ money being spent on expensive gifts to senior staff prompted an independent investigation – with chief Christine Holgate being told by the prime minister that if she didn’t stand aside “she can go”.
Ms Holgate resigned less than two weeks later. But the findings of the report – which also looked at the conduct of board members, their governance and the actions of management and executives – is being kept in the dark.
Communications Minister Paul Fletcher on Wednesday confirmed the government had received the report.
When asked if it would be made public, Mr Fletcher said: “Cabinet considered that matter and we’ve said as much about it as we intend to say”.
“Australia Post is getting on with delivering parcels around the country,” he said.
Mr Fletcher was also asked if the report found any wrongdoing by Ms Holgate – who quit Australia Post in early November.
“I’m not going to go into the details of the report beyond what’s been said,” Mr Fletcher said.
Opposition communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland said on Tuesday that if there was nothing to see, why was the government burying the report?
“Scott Morrison’s decision to keep the Australia Post investigation secret is pathetic and, just like the purchase of Cartier watches, does not pass the pub test,” Ms Rowland said.
“The tactic to use Cabinet consideration to hide the report from Freedom of Information scrutiny is an abuse of process.
“If no breaches were found, why was the former CEO seemingly pressured into quitting without pay?”
Ms Rowland warned that if the government did not think taxpayers deserved to know if their money was wasted by Australia Post bosses, then the Senate would investigate.
Ms Holgate’s treatment following the expenses scandal prompted a wave of support from Australia Post licence holders.
Licensed Post Office Group head, Angela Cramp, said licensees were all the poorer following her resignation because Ms Holgate had worked hard for bricks and mortar stores.
Some of the group’s members also sent $5 notes to Scott Morrison in a move to ‘pay’ for the Cartier watches.