Christine Holgate, the CEO of national postal service Australia Post, stepped down earlier this week with immediate effect, amid a government investigation into the organization's expenditure and governance. The investigation, launched in October, was prompted by information that Holgate had authorized almost A$20,000 (US$14,000) worth of gifts—in the form of four Cartier watches—to four senior employees as a reward for closing a major business deal in 2018.
Although run by an independent board of directors, Australia Post is owned by the Australian government on behalf of taxpayers, meaning that the rewards expenses were taxpayer money. Holgate, who took on the role of CEO in 2017, has defended the gifts, stating repeatedly that it is necessary to reward and recognize the work of the four employees.
“I have always sought to recognise and thank the efforts of our 80,000 strong extended team, as together they are the real heroes behind our results. Philosophically, I believe if you want to drive positive change, you need to thank and reward positive behaviours," she said in her resignation statement.
However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other political office holders have said that high-expenditure rewards and benefits policies are not acceptable when taxpayer money is involved.
Before joining Australia Post, Holgate wasthe CEO of Blackmores. She also chaired the board of the Australian ASEAN Council. While Australia Post has not disclosed any succession plans, CFO Rodney Boys has taken over as acting Group CEO.