A Senate Estimates hearing last week uncovered the fact that the CEO of Australia Post, Christine Holgate, gave four senior executives horrendously expensive (between $3,800 and $7,000 each1) Cartier watches in lieu of cash bonuses. If the bonuses had even been significantly more but in cash, they probably would have passed by without a squeak, as both Michael Pascoe and Matthew Doran have suggested1,2. The ‘bonus’ watches were a reward for putting together a deal with the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and NAB to ensure banking services were available in post offices and that the licensed post office operators were paid appropriately. This deal has apparently saved the licensed post office network, particularly those in rural and regional areas, which used to be paid a pittance after stepping in to provide banking services after local bank branches closed.
The odd thing about this is that it happened two years ago, in November 20183. So why is Prime Minister Scott Morrison making a mountain out of such a relative molehill by waving his arms and stamping his feet about this? This is because it is a useful distraction from all the other corruption going on during his tenure as PM, which is extensive and structural4.
It is ironic that these Cartier watches have created such a kerfuffle, when the Rolex watches received in 2013 by Stuart Robert, Tony Abbott and Ian Macfarlane from a Chinese billionaire Li Ruipeng which were valued at a vastly greater $250,000, caused barely a ripple.
*Apologies to George Orwell