Australia Post board members Michael Ronaldson, Deidre Willmott and Tony Nutt (Images: AAP)

Christine Holgate not only lost her job but took a severe reputation hit for trying to reward staff for hard work. Her only actual error was buying Cartier watches rather than sending her executive team and partners to a Bledisloe Cup game. She should have known better — we do sports in Australia, not luxury items.

Her $20,000 expenditure for four watches looks trivial compared with the $450,000 retirement scheme the Liberal Party extracts from Australia Post annually. What you say? That’s the equivalent of 90 Cartier watches a year.

The Liberal Party appears to use board positions as a “thank you” for loyal dedication. If you were concerned that government or party officials were poorly paid and not keeping up with the private sector, take some comfort that their post-retirement fun is looked after.

The good old Australia Post with its dedicated posties is not immune to government board stacking. Four of the eight board members are highly linked to the Liberals.

Here’s who they are and what they got:

  • Bruce McIver’s board fees in 2020 were $113,464. McIver was president of the Liberal National Party of Queensland from 2008-15
  • Tony Nutt earned $111,722 in board fees in 2020. Nutt was principal adviser to former prime minister John Howard and chief of staff to former attorney-general Daryl Williams
  • Michael Ronaldson earned $111,722 in board fees in 2020. Ronaldson was a Liberal senator for Victoria from 2004 until 2016 and served in the House of Representatives as the member for Ballarat from 1990 to 2001
  • Deidre Willmott earned $113,464 in board fees. Willmott was chief of staff to Liberal Western Australian premiers 1999-01 and 2008-09.

I am not an expert on Holgate-gate, but I know one thing: people in glass houses should not offer up cushy board postings.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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