House debates

Monday, 26 October 2020

Questions without Notice

Australia Post

2:27 pm

Photo of Michelle RowlandMichelle Rowland (Greenway, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Communications) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the minister for communications. Why did the minister say last week he was shocked and concerned by developments at Australia Post when it had already been reported that Australia Post hired a $3,000-a-day reputation manager and a corporate credit card had racked up nearly $300,000 in expenses in the last financial year? Shouldn't the minister have seen this coming?

2:28 pm

Photo of Paul FletcherPaul Fletcher (Bradfield, Liberal Party, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts) Share this | | Hansard source

I do thank the shadow minister for her question. I'll tell you what I've seen coming and what our side of government has seen coming: the changes to Australia Post's market conditions, with the number of letters dropping sharply over a significant period of time. That is why we moved quickly to engage—

Opposition Members:

Opposition members interjecting

Photo of Paul FletcherPaul Fletcher (Bradfield, Liberal Party, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts) Share this | | Hansard source

The number of letters is falling and falling and falling. That is why we've moved quickly to engage BCG to conduct a review. We moved quickly in relation to the issues in relation to the very high demand that Australians have for parcels, particularly during COVID-19.

I'll tell you what we've also moved quickly to do. We've moved quickly to appoint a new chair of Australia Post, Lucio Di Bartolomeo, who brings extremely wide-ranging experience, including as Chair of Australian Naval Infrastructure, Deputy Chair of Moorebank Intermodal Company and non-executive director of Australian Rail Track Corporation. He's been the interim CEO of Moorebank Intermodal Company. He's been the managing director of Thales Australia. He was the managing director of FreightCorp. He has got serious experience in logistics and in the very business issues that Australia Post is facing. So we've moved quickly on those business issues.

And I'll tell you something else: when the chief executive spoke at Senate estimates and disclosed the matter of the watches, we moved very quickly on that matter as well. Within an hour, we had announced that we would ask that the chief executive be stood aside and that we were establishing an inquiry, an investigation to be led by the departments supporting the two shareholder ministers with support from an external law firm.

We make it very clear that the board of every government business enterprise must be on notice. We expect careful dealing with taxpayers' money. So, when issues arise, we deal with them quickly, and that is exactly what we've done here.