Christine Holgate’s lawyer says the former Australia Post chief has “no option” but to consider legal action against the organisation, which has been accused of unlawfully standing Holgate down.
Last month Holgate offered to enter into mediation with Australia Post and its shareholder ministers, and set a deadline of 5pm on May 5.
In a statement on Monday, Holgate’s lawyer, Rebekah Giles, revealed the government and the AusPost board had advised that they would not be able to conduct the mediation by that deadline.
“It is very disappointing to Ms Holgate that it appears neither the government nor Australia Post have been able to prioritise an amicable resolution of this matter, particularly as they are very aware of the ongoing damage this matter causes my client and in light of the fact that it took them only hours to unlawfully stand her down,” Giles said.
“Given there appears to be an absence of agreement to mediate this matter expeditiously, Ms Holgate will now have no option but to consider her legal options after the Senate Communications and Environment Committee’s report into these matters is released on May 17.”
That senate committee is currently conducting an inquiry into AusPost, which began last year following revelations that the organisation spent $19,950 on Cartier watches for four of its senior employees in 2018.
In November it was announced that Holgate had resigned from her position, amid the watch scandal.
But last month Holgate told the senate inquiry that AusPost chair Lucio Di Bartolomeo unlawfully stood her down “under public direction of the prime minister”.
“This made my leadership at Australia Post untenable and seriously threatened my health,” she said.
Holgate said her contract had never been resolved and she “signed no deed of release”.
Di Bartolomeo has rejected Holgate’s accusations that she was forced to stand down, arguing that, while reluctant, she had agreed to resign. On Monday the chair told the inquiry that the organisation was “willing” to mediate, but described Holgate’s demands as “unreasonable”.
“We will deal with mediation, by all means, but they’ve been very cute,” he said of Holgate and her lawyers.