The Morrison government has today released terms of reference for an inquiry into Australia Post, following revelations last week the organisation spent $19,950 on Cartier watches for four of its employees in 2018.
The release explains that the Department of Finance and Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, supported by an external law firm that has not yet been named, will undertake an investigation into Australia Post’s governance arrangements and corporate culture concerning the proper use and management of public resources in relation to gifts, rewards and expenses, including personal expenses of executives.
Chief executive Christine Holgate has stood aside for the investigation, which clearly goes beyond the inciting incident and will “determine whether Australia Post has expended money ethically and acted in a manner expected of a Government Business Enterprise”, specifically in relation to:
- The facts around an incident involving the provision of wristwatches to Australia Post staff in late 2018;
- The role of the then Australia Post Chair and Board, and the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer in the incident;
- Whether there are other instances in Australia Post inconsistent with appropriate behaviour for a GBE that require further investigation;
- Whether this incident or other instances (including the actions of those involved) are consistent with:
- the obligations of Directors and Chief Executives of Government Business Enterprises
- the efficient, effective, economical and ethical expenditure of money and use of public resources
- The extent to which Australia Post’s governance arrangements and management culture, in particular in relation to gifts, rewards and expenses, including personal expenses of executives:
- supports the efficient, effective, economical and ethical management of resources
- meets the expectations of the public around the leadership and governance of Australia Post as a public institution
- require further investigation or review.
A report is expected to be provided within four weeks of the investigation’s commencement.