The Australia Post CEO who has stood aside over a Cartier watch scandal made her appearance at Senate estimates on Thursday wearing a gold watch from Bulgari that retails for up to $48,000.
In a most unfortunate coincidence for the organisation’s first female chief executive, her taste for bling was captured by photographers as she was grilled over the decision to spend $12,000 on four Cartier watches for her staff.
Christine Holgate told Senate estimates that she did not receive a Cartier watch herself, but is clearly in possession of a far more expensive timepiece that she has purchased.
The Serpenti Tubogas watch is billed as offering its owner the “sinuosity of the snake with the contemporary soul of tubogas” and “evoking both the sensual curves of a woman and the fluid shape of the serpent.”
Ms Holgate first raised eyebrows last year with her new wheels – an electric blue Range Rover with personalised “POSTY1” number plates.
RELATED: PM orders Aus Post CEO Christine Holgate to stand aside
For the high-flying former CEO of the year, who raked in $2.5 million from the government-owned business in 2019, the financial freedom to buy a nice car and an expensive watch is just another perk of the job.
But to her critics, the car – a gift from her husband, – was a worrying sign that Australia Post’s first female executive was also tone-deaf.
During an excruciating cross-examination with Labor’s Senator Kimberley Kitching on Thursday, Ms Holgate confirmed that view to her critics as she revealed several executives were awarded Cartier watches.
It went as follows:
KITCHING: And what was that award?
HOLGATE: They got watches.
KITCHING: And what were the watches?
HOLGATE: They were a Cartier watch of about a value of $3,000 each.
KITCHING: Four people got Cartier. Do you remember the brand, the type? Was it a Cartier Tank? What was it?
HOLGATE: I don’t recall. I didn’t actually purchase them. They were organised through my office on behalf of the Chair and I.
KITCHING: Okay. So, just to be clear, the four people who received Cartier watches was Mr Starr, you received one, Ms Holgate?
HOLGATE: No, I did not.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Ms Holgate’s claim that taxpayers’ money was not involved made Labor and it would appear, the Prime Minister, see red.
KITCHING: Do you, Ms Holgate, consider it appropriate to use taxpayers’ money to buy Cartier watches for already highly-remunerated Australia Post executives?
HOLGATE: I have not used taxpayers’ money. We are a commercial organisation. We do not receive government funding. We are a commercial organisation.
KITCHING: It is a government organisation.
HOLGATE: It was a recommendation from our Chair that these people get rewarded.
The former British business executive joined the government-owned business three years ago on October 30, 2017, but it’s unlikely she will be throwing a party to mark her third anniversary as she stands aside pending an investigation into the watches.
Perhaps, it is unsurprising then to learn that