Australia Post has defended its chief executive Christine Holgate after it was reported that she had demanded One Nation-branded stubby holders be delivered to public housing residents in Melbourne.
On Thursday it was reported that, in July, Holgate had written to the City of Melbourne threatening to call the police unless the council delivered 114 stubby holders from One Nation leader Pauline Hanson to a locked-down public housing tower.
The demand came days after Hanson appeared on the Nine Network’s breakfast show, where she described the locked-down public housing tenants as “drug addicts” and “alcoholics” who didn’t speak English and didn’t follow social-distancing rules.
The stubby holders were branded with Hanson’s face and the slogan “I’ve got the guts to say what you’re thinking”. They were also accompanied with a note, stating “No Hard Feelings”.
Because the towers were in lockdown, AusPost sent the parcels to council staff who were overseeing the delivery of items to the locked-down residents. The council staff decided against distributing the parcels after seeing their contents, prompting AusPost executives to intervene.
Media reports on Thursday suggested that at the time, AusPost was attempting to win One Nation’s support for a temporary relaxation in daily postal services to continue.
AusPost has issued a statement saying Holgate did not speak to Hanson or One Nation, and did not threaten the council “with whom she has a valued relationship and holds in high regard”.
“Australia Post takes its obligation to deliver mail as addressed seriously, and given the unique nature of the circumstances — namely with site access being denied, due to the units being under lockdown and under the control of [The Department of Health and Human Services] and City of Melbourne — met this obligation when we delivered all mail to authorised officers at the site control centre,” it said on Thursday.
“Upon subsequently being made aware that the items did not reach their ultimate destination, we raised it with the City of Melbourne and engaged with the sender in good faith to resolve the matter. Commonwealth laws prohibit any conduct which interferes with the mail, and make it clear that Australia Post is obliged to complete the delivery of Australians’ mail to the designated address.”
Meanwhile, Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp has defended the council’s initial decision not to distribute Hanson’s stubby holders.
Victorian Labor senator Kimberley Kitching has called on AusPost executives to front the upcoming Senate estimates hearing, while deputy federal Labor leader Richard Marles has demanded Holgate explain why she went to “such lengths” to deliver Hanson’s mail.
“You’ve got Australia Post saying to people that they can’t expect their mail to be delivered on time on Father’s Day. But if you are Pauline Hanson, you can contact the CEO of Australia Post and make sure that your stubby holders get delivered to the council towers in Victoria. That is an appalling situation,” he told Sky News.
Shadow minister for multicultural affairs, Andrew Giles, said it was “disturbing” that Holgate helped Hanson “send divisive material” to the public housing residents.
“Senator Hanson’s wrong and hateful remarks about public housing tenants saw her get sacked from morning TV. At the same time, Australia Post was prepared to help Hanson add injury to insult to vulnerable people, while they were battling coronavirus,” he said.
Crossbench senator Rex Patrick and Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young have also criticised Holgate following the revelations, while the union representing Victorian postal workers has described AusPost’s actions as “odd”.