Australia Post chair Lucio Di Bartolomeo says he's not responsible for forcing former CEO Christine Holgate out of the role, contradicting claims made ahead of an inquiry into the organisation.
Mr Di Bartolomeo will be grilled next week over claims he bullied Ms Holgate out of the role and lied to Parliament over the Cartier watches scandal.
In a statement on Wednesday, Mr Di Bartolomeo said the Australia Post board was "saddened and disappointed" when she resigned days after Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged her to go in November 2020.
Ms Holgate was "a very good chief executive", Mr Di Bartolomeo said in the statement, adding that her welfare was a priority for the organisation following the challenging year of the pandemic.
He said there was an ongoing offer of support to Ms Holgate despite her departure, but felt the need to address the claims before next week's inquiry hearing.
Mr Di Bartolomeo stated that it was incorrect that Ms Holgate was "unlawfully" stood down, as she agreed with him to stand aside from her role pending the outcomes of an internal investigation.
"My objective was, subject to the findings of the investigation, to have Ms Holgate back performing her role as soon as possible," he said.
"The Board did not stand down, or suspend, Ms Holgate from her role - that being an unnecessary consideration given her agreement to stand aside."
Ms Holgate's submission to the inquiry claims Mr Di Bartolomeo treated her "like a criminal" and blames him for her being forced out of the top job.
"He lied repeatedly to the Australian people and to their parliament about his actions," she wrote.
Ms Holgate claimed she had been given no explanation for why she had to depart, other than that Mr Morrison and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher demanded it.
The Prime Minister would not address the new claims on Wednesday, insisting to reporters the decision to quit was made by Ms Holgate alone.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese came to Ms Holgate's defence, noting new evidence supplied by her including photographs of thank you cards signed by Mr Di Bartolomeo that went with the luxury watches given as gifts to senior executives, supported her claim she was acting consistent with the board's expectations.
"Scott Morrison got rid of Christine Holgate on the floor of the House of Representatives in question time ... without an opportunity for her to put her case," Mr Albanese told reporters in Launceston on Wednesday.
Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, chair of the inquiry into Australia Post, said Mr Di Bartolomeo needed to explain how Ms Holgate's departure was managed and why a proper and transparent process was not conducted.
Two senior public servants were also named as witnesses to Ms Holgate's claims that Mr Di Bartolomeo had misled Parliament over the scandal and Mr Fletcher was aware at the time.
The allegations from Ms Holgate sparked Labor and Greens politicians to accuse the government of repeatedly throwing women under the bus.
Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, chair of the inquiry into Australia Post, said the submission showed a glaring double standard, one set of rules for the boys club and another for women in politics.
"The PM initiated a swift and 'humiliating' response against Ms Holgate when it was revealed Australia Post had gifted $20,000 of luxury watches to executives, yet when it comes to serious allegations of misconduct against his male cabinet members his strategy is deflect and defend," Senator Hanson-Young said on Wednesday.
She urged the Prime Minister to "rethink his approach to this issue in the meantime and be ready to explain how he has treated this woman".
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