Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka (Image: AAP/Julian Smith)

Why do politicians persist with invoking the “pub test” as the basis for an opinion or policy? Most often it’s simply a lazy substitute for reasoned argument, but the news media generally goes along instead of calling it out for what it is.

The most recent high-profile case involved Christine Holgate, former CEO of Australia Post, who lost her job when the prime minister and his supporters decided the performance reward of luxury watches for four senior executives “didn’t pass the pub test”.

It was also claimed her action was “inconsistent with community expectations”, even though it was self-evident that cash bonuses of a similar value would likely have raised no such concerns.