Ms Holgate stepped aside from her role late last year during an investigation after she revealed she had gifted luxury watches to four staff members in 2018 as a reward for securing a lucrative contract — she resigned from her position shortly afterwards. In a parliamentary inquiry into her departure last month, Ms Holgate told senators that she was “humiliated” and unwillingly pushed out of her job. In the inquiry, she also alleged she was “unlawfully” stood aside following the scandal.
The Australia Post board has denied the allegations.”
Christine Holgate threatens legal action against Australia Post
In a statement, Ms Holgate’s legal representative Rebekah Giles said she had offered to enter into mediation with Australia Post and its shareholder ministers but had been told they would not be able to speak with them by their preferred Wednesday deadline.
“We offered Australia Post and the government ministers a two-week window to conduct this mediation in order to minimise the ongoing harm that has been caused to Ms Holgate as well as the distraction to Australia Post which ultimately must focus on its important service to the public and its obligations to its employees and operators,” Ms Giles said.
“Given there appears to be an absence of agreement to mediate this matter expeditiously, Ms Holgate will now have no option but to consider her legal options after the [Senate inquiry] report into these matters is released on May 17.”
The entire Australia Post board appeared at the inquiry into Ms Holgate’s departure on Monday for the second time in a week.
Australia Post chair Lucio Di Bartolomeo told the inquiry that Australia Post wanted to enter into mediation with Ms Holgate, but the timeframe given by her lawyers was unreasonable.
“We are willing, and we wish to prepare — at this stage, we don’t even know the details of what the claims are but that’s part of the process that we had to go into, there’s no debate here over wanting to mediate,” he said.
Mr Di Bartolomeo also told the inquiry he had spoken to Communications Minister Paul Fletcher directly about Ms Holgate’s litigation letter.
A spokeswoman for Mr Fletcher has told the ABC the dispute was a matter for Ms Holgate and Australia Post.
‘I don’t want to be drawn on that’
On Monday afternoon, Australia Post board member Tony Nutt appeared at the inquiry into Ms Holgate’s departure for the first time, after falling ill last week.
Mr Nutt, a former Liberal Party director and principal private secretary to John Howard, was asked if Ms Holgate deserved an apology.
“By Australia Post? Not by Australia Post,” he said.
But when asked if anyone else owed her an apology, Mr Nutt avoided answering the question.
“These matters are still on foot, including issues of mediation being discussed at present, so I don’t want to be drawn on that,” he said.
In his opening statement, Mr Nutt also said the inquiry had morphed in “high farce” and denied that he “seemed to be running the show”.
“Senators I can assure you if I’d been directing events, the wretched watches wouldn’t have been bought two and a half years ago,” he said.
“Had I been directing events, Ms Holgate — faced with an unexpected, rapidly escalating level of deeply hurtful criticism, which she clearly found almost inexplicable — might have stayed the course over the next month or so.
“By ignoring the short-term politics and the increasingly inaccurate, on occasion completely false, and sometimes rather vile commentary, and concentrating on methodically sorting through all the queries of the investigation, Ms Holgate would be the CEO today.”