Ex-Post boss lashes secret privatisation

Christine Holgate told a Senate hearing the review on privatisation should have been made public.
Christine Holgate told a Senate hearing the review on privatisation should have been made public.

Australia Post's former chief executive has lashed the Morrison government for silencing her attempts to speak out against a secret investigation into further privatising the service.

Christine Holgate believes she "wasn't popular" with Australia Post chair Lucio Di Bartolomeo and ministers over her opposition to a confidential business strategy review.

Labor senator Kim Carr said the report recommended 5000 to 8000 job cuts and the closure of 190 post offices, along with reductions in delivery standards.

Ms Holgate told a Senate hearing in Canberra the review should not have been kept from the public.

"We should stop having secret reviews. Australia Post is an asset for all Australians," she told Senator Carr on Tuesday.

"Senator, I actually think the implications are worse than what you think."

In bombshell evidence to the inquiry, Ms Holgate accused Mr Di Bartolomeo of misleading parliament when he said he had not read the Boston Consulting Group review.

She said he had multiple copies of the report, met with BCG and top bureaucrats, and attended a five-hour board meeting about its contents.

"I find it almost impossible to believe a chairman could forget that," Ms Holgate said.

"Why would you pay $1.3 million for a report you just flick through?"

Mr Di Bartolomeo categorically denied he considered any move to privatise the service.

He said he corrected evidence to the Senate about only seeing a draft of the BCG report after realising he had seen the final version.

"I've never lied to Senate estimates."

Mr Di Bartolomeo said the report had no specific recommendations but did identify ways to cut costs.

He said there were no plans to change local post offices, particularly in rural and regional areas.

"We won't be closing or reducing the LPOs."

Ms Holgate said government minister Jane Hume blocked Australia Post from answering questions about the proposals at a parliamentary inquiry last month.

"I apologise that I was never able to speak up before, because I do appreciate you've asked me many times but we are silenced," she said.

The former Australia Post boss, who has the backing of hundreds of post office licensees, said a similar push to privatise the parcel aspect of the business in the UK sparked legal action.

"The post offices went bankrupt," she said.

Australian Associated Press