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Aus Post lashed over mammoth ‘out of touch’ bonuses for staff

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Five senior Australian Post executives have been paid retention bonuses of up to $500,000 over a three-year period, a Senate committee has heard.

The bonuses were paid on top of the employees’ base salary and incentive bonuses, some of which were worth six figures.

The total amount of the bonuses paid to one executive member and four senior managers was not available. But an estimates hearing heard that one staffer got $500,000, paid out over three years.

Australia Post chief executive Paul Graham said the payments were necessary to avoid senior staff being poached by the private sector.

“It was appropriate to retain those people – these skills are very, very difficult to find both in the Australian market and indeed in the international market,” he said on Tuesday.

“The damage that their departure would have done would have been significant … it is not an unusual process to pay retention when people are under threat of moving to a major competitor.”

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the amount paid out in bonuses was “extraordinary” for a public organisation and labelled it out of touch.

“That’s a lot of money, talk about out of touch,” she said.

It came after Australia Post chair Lucio Di Bartolomeo denied the service gave average bonuses of up to $168,000 for employees who earned $300,000-$400,000 a year.

Instead, he said the payments were “short-term incentives” for staff.

“Clearly performance outcomes from year to year may well see different payments being made,” he told estimates.

“They’re not increasing pay, they’re not increasing bonuses, they’re just simply getting more of what was at risk for them, rather than, obviously [what] occurred the previous year.”

The amount paid out in bonuses is more than eight times the value of the controversial Cartier watches handed out by then chief executive Christine Holgate and revealed in 2020.

She gave four luxury watches worth a combined total of nearly $20,000 to senior employees as a gift for securing a lucrative contract.

The handouts also emerged at a Senate estimates hearing. The resulting fallout led to Ms Holgate leaving Australia Post.

-with AAP

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