Australia Post spent $12,000 on luxury watches to reward four senior staff for clinching a deal to do banking at post offices.
Chief executive Christine Holgate confirmed the $3000 Cartier watches were handed out as an award for working on the Bank@Post agreement with three major banks.
“They were a small number of senior people who’d put an inordinate amount of work in,” she told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra on Thursday.
“They did receive an award on behalf of the chair, myself and the board.”
Labor senator Kimberley Kitching grilled chief financial officer Rodney Boys, who couldn’t say how the watches were paid for.
“You spent $12,000 on watches an you can’t tell me what credit card you put it on?” she said.
Mr Boys said the organisation took great care of $7.4 billion worth of expenses.
Senator Kitching bristled at the extravagant gifts.
“Do you, Ms Holgate, consider it appropriate to use taxpayers’ money for Cartier watches for already highly remunerated Australia Post executives?” she asked.
But the chief of the government business enterprise said public money was not used.
“We do not receive government funding,” Ms Holgate said.
“We are a commercial organisation. It was a recommendation from our chair that these people get rewarded.”
Senator Kitching lashed the board for failing to appear at estimates, describing them as invisible men and women.
Ms Holgate did not receive a watch but senior executive Gary Starr, who also appeared before the committee, did.
Mr Starr was not wearing the watch and denied he had given it away as a gift.