Christine Holgate, the former CEO of Australia Post, testifies before a Senate inquiry that she was suicidal.
Christine Holgate, the former CEO of Australia Post, has disclosed the disturbing effect her unjust dismissal had on her mental health.
Christine Holgate, the former CEO of Australia Post, declared herself "suicidal" after Prime Minister Scott Morrison ordered her to recuse herself from an inquiry into the purchasing of Cartier watches and pleaded for assistance from senior Liberal frontbenchers.
Ms Holgate was grilled during her testimony to a Senate inquiry by One Nation's Pauline Hanson, who railed against her handling.
“And I believe that if you read that message, for which I apologize in advance, that it is rambling, and that it is rambling because I was gravely ill and on temazepam," According to Ms Holgate.
“I contemplated suicide. You are aware? That is why it was disjointed. Since Simon Birmingham and I co-chaired the trade board, I knew him apart from his position as Finance Minister, which is why I sought his assistance. He had recently been appointed Senate President, and so I wrote to him and said, 'Surely, now that you are Minister of Finance, Minister of Trade, and Senate President, you will assist me in obtaining a resolution and putting an end to what is happening to me'. I simply requested that I be treated with dignity. On Saturday December 25, which felt like an eternity when you're going through hell, I texted Simon Birmingham on his personal mobile and asked, 'I haven't heard anything and when can we meet?' I got no answer."
Ms Holgate previously testified in explosive detail, accusing the Prime Minister of insulting her and manipulating her out of a career.
Ms Holgate claims she was unlawfully removed from her role last year after the Prime Minister informed Parliament that if she refused to step aside during an inquiry into Cartier watch gifts to executives, "she should go."
She contended that the Morrison Government's treatment of men accused of misconduct was markedly different.
“The straightforward truth is that I was intimidated out of my job,” Ms Holgate testified before Parliament.
“I was embarrassed and depressed. I was thrown under the bus by Australia Post's chairman in order to curry favor with his political patrons. However, I am still alive and happier as a result of my survival.”
Ms Holgate also attempted to make a connection between the accusations against Mr Morrison's own cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister's dismissal of them since they happened many years earlier.
However, during the Senate inquiry, concerns were raised about whether there was a wider agenda to privatize Australia Post that played a role in Ms Holgate's withdrawal.
“I'm not sure why the Prime Minister acted the way he did. I'm presenting to you today that I was unfairly terminated and my contract was rescinded. I've always requested respect," she said.
“And I have never been allowed to do so. As a result, my answer might be slightly different. I have no idea why the Prime Minister acted the way he did. However, I assume I was unlawfully stood down because he directed it to do so.”
Ms Holgate also discussed the circumstances surrounding her resignation from the top job, claiming it was totally unjustified in her view.
“I believe that is self-evident. I should have never been absent from work. There was nothing to justify standing me down illegally," she said.
“And my answer has always been the same – I adore Australia Post. There are no days that I do not admire and appreciate the people, but I cannot work for a Senate chair who is dishonest and lacks integrity.”
Ms Holgate also accused the Board of leaking her resignation letter to Sky News in order to compel an agreement to be signed or finalised.
“It was not me who made it available to Sky News. The board was the only one who had that argument," she explained.
“I made no attempt to obtain financial compensation.”
Ms Holgate targeted Australia Post chairman Lucio Di Bartolomeo for the majority of her criticism. Parliamentary immunity applies to her accusations of bullying, lying, and coercion because she is testifying before a Senate inquiry and Parliament.
Without the inquiry, Ms Holgate said, the Australia Post chairman "would almost certainly have gotten away with lying to the Australian people, their Senate, to Australia Post employees and partners, and most importantly, he would never have been held accountable for bullying me."
“My testimony is based on hard facts and written evidence. It is undeniably corroborated by credible witnesses," she said.
“By comparison, the proof presented by Australia Post's chairman is fabricated. He fabricated the deal to step down on my behalf, and he continues to do so to this day. I assume he did it to protect his own political status, and since it amounted to nothing, he would never be held accountable for his decisions. He has also lied regarding critical matters concerning the future of Australia Post. Australia Post is a critical national asset that, in my opinion, significantly benefits the Australian people, their economy, and their individual communities. I was honored to serve as its leader. And I was devastated when I was escorted out of it. However, its staff, distribution partners, and neighborhood post offices will forever leave a mark on my heart.”
Ms Holgate accused her former chairman of "fabricating" statements that she voluntarily decided to step down, claiming she had been intimidated.
“I have always desired what is best for Australia Post and its employees,” she said.
“Yet I was fired from my career, a job I cherished, after being mocked by our Prime Minister for committing no offense and then bullied by my chairman. Their harassment of me was far from over. I was the target of a biased investigation and constantly threatened with additional charges and criticism. Throughout this time period, my health deteriorated to the point that I lost my will to fight. This is a day when the chairman of Australia Post and the other men responsible for my death will be kept accountable.”