‘I’d love an apology’: Christine Holgate appeals to PM

Ex-Australia Post boss Christine Holgate has called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to apologise for bullying her out of a job as the first female chief of the postal service.

Ms Holgate made the appeal in a flurry of media appearances after she tore into the Morrison government and Australia Post for almost three hours at a Senate inquiry into the Cartier watches saga on Tuesday.

Former Australia Post boss Christine Holgate says she’d “love an apology” from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen/Dominic Lorrimer

She said she had not spoken with Mr Morrison but said she was prepared to accept an apology were he to offer one.

“You know, everybody makes mistakes sometimes. If he was to call me and apologise, I would welcome that apology. That’s all I want. It’s all the people have wanted. We just want respect. We just want a stop to bullying and humiliation,” Ms Holgate told Channel Nine’s Today show on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister’s office has been contacted for comment.

Ms Holgate said she decided to speak publicly about the toll it took on her mental health in a bid to highlight the impact of workplace bullying.

“I was suicidal. I don’t like sharing that but it’s the truth and I think sometimes you do have to talk about that pain because you’ve got to be open about it to stop these things happening,” she told Channel 7’s Sunrise program.

Ms Holgate broke her silence on Tuesday on the watches saga that ended her reign as Australia Post chief, telling a Senate inquiry that she was left contemplating suicide as a result of the bullying and intimidation she endured through the ordeal. She said Mr Morrison played a key role in her downfall, accusing him of humiliating her in the Parliament.

“I lost a job – a job I loved – because I was humiliated by our Prime Minister for committing no offence and then bullied by my chairman Lucio Di Bartolomeo, who unlawfully stood me down under public direction of the Prime Minister,” Ms Holgate told the hearing.

“I have done no wrong. Their bullying of me was far from over. I was subjected to a biased investigation and intimidated with constant threats of further allegations and criticism.”

She resigned from Australia Post on November 2, 10 days after she disclosed to a Senate estimates hearing that she had purchased $20,000 worth of Cartier watches in 2018. The watches were a reward for senior employees who had worked to land the Bank@Post deal, which secured Australia Post $220 million for providing financial services on behalf of Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank at local post offices.

At the time, Mr Morrison seized on the revelations, telling the Parliament on October 22 that Ms Holgate could “go” if she refused to stand aside for an inquiry into the gifts.

In an interview with the ABC’s 7.30 program on Tuesday evening, Ms Holgate described Mr Morrison’s rebuke of her actions as “one of the worst acts of bullying I’ve ever witnessed” and said she’d “love an apology”. She also revealed she was contemplating legal action against Australia Post over the ongoing dispute around the finalisation of her contract.

Ms Holgate has repeatedly justified the watches on the grounds it was important to recognise the hard work of the employees in securing the landmark banking deal.

“Perhaps next time I won’t buy someone a Cartier watch but let me tell you something – I never want to stop rewarding and recognising brilliance in my people,” she told Today.

Mr Di Bartolomeo also gave evidence on Tuesday, rejecting many of Ms Holgate’s accusations and insisting that she agreed to stand aside and was provided with extensive support throughout the ordeal. He conceded Ms Holgate had been treated “abysmally”, but said the board and management had supported her through the ordeal.

“I don’t believe Australia Post owes her an apology, no. But I do believe she was badly treated,” he said.

He attributed this poor treatment to the political and media frenzy that engulfed Ms Holgate on October 22, when both the Coalition and Labor condemned the watches purchases.

“The environment that was created at the time — from that afternoon on through Parliament and the media thereafter, and everyone else who bought in — created a set of circumstances that made her job, her life very difficult,” Mr Di Bartolomeo said.

The opposition also supported Ms Holgate’s resignation at the time.

“I think it’s perfectly reasonable that Christine Holgate resign,” Labor leader Anthony Albanese said on November 3.

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