Corporatisation of Australia Post has gone horribly wrong

Australia Post has been embroiled in more controversy, with Fairfax reporting extreme largesse from its CEO at the same time as it wound back deliveries:

Australia Post boss Christine Holgate hired a $3000-a-day “reputation management” firm while the organisation sought to justify winding back mail delivery services and win political influence during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald can also reveal Ms Holgate, who earned more than $2.5 million in pay and bonuses as the publicly owned entity’s chief executive, spent about $300,000 on corporate credit cards and chauffeur-driven cars over a 12-month period.

The bill for hiring leading public relations consultant Ross Thornton reached more than $119,000 for just 38 days between June and July, with the former adviser to James Hardie and AMP still engaged by Australia Post…

Australia Post’s admission comes amid the organisation’s warnings that Australians should prepare to post their Christmas parcels up to six weeks in advance to ensure gifts arrive in time as it deals with massive backlogs at delivery centres…

This follows Fairfax’s report last month revealing that Australia Post’s highly paid executive team were lining up $7 million in bonuses while it requested staff volunteer to use their own cars to deliver late parcels:

The national mail service emailed its Victorian workforce, including staff from administration and finance, on Monday to “urgently” ask for help to meet unprecedented demand from customers because of a surge in online shopping.

The call to arms to employees coincides with the organisation’s managing director Christine Holgate softening the ground for her executive team to accept personal bonuses…

Ms Holgate, who was paid $2.5 million last year as the nation’s highest earning civil servant, is estimated to be in line for a $1 million-plus bonus while other executives could take home up to $600,000…

In the memo to staff on Monday, deliveries general manager Rod Barnes said AusPost needed people with a driver’s licence and car to help with parcel pick-up services from facilities in Dandenong South, Bayswater and Brooklyn and deliver to customers for shifts this week.

Amazing stuff. If Australian Post is busy, pay staff to work extra.  That’s what a job is.

I love how the executives think they should get a bonus for their good work when parcel deliveries are being delayed and staff are being asked to work overtime for free.

Australia Post is merely the latest example of the failure of ‘marketisation’ to deliver government services.

The obscenity of CEO salaries and corporate structures have now infiltrated most publicly-owned institutions, including Australia Post and universities.

The fat cats at the top are creaming it while rank and file staff are treated like dirt on low-paid, insecure contracts, and end-user service delivery is gutted.

Leith van Onselen


  1. GunnamattaMEMBER

    It isnt just Australia Post. The entire interaction of public service and private provider – from contracts for IT related services and parcel delivery or mail movement – to site maintenance, the pens and paper people use – through to professionals services for audit, legal, medical, design, communications and HR related services, abd well beyond – has utterly turned into an endless teat for the ‘efficient private sector’ to extract milky wilkies from the public

    Then there has been the wholesale outsourcing of public sector functions which have never included the cost of getting rid of previous public servants or the extortionate contract price increases the private sector will gouge for once there is no in house public provider of a service.

    • Broadly speaking, self-interest is all that matters. Every decision is made to maximize self-interest while cloaking the predation with sickly-sweet propaganda of the most transparent type.
      Institutions protect insiders because every insider must mask their self-interest and the general failure of the institution. Insiders protect other insiders lest transparency reveals the insiders’ skims and scams and the failure of the institution to fulfil its purpose.
      Risk is to be avoided at all costs because any failure might reveal the systemic failure of the entire organization.

  2. The level of uselessness and appalling management I feel is demonstrated by a mate of mine who was a 40 year AUSTPOST employee. He was an auditor of country Qld post offices. He travelled to Western QLD servicing the audit requirements as needed. About 10 years ago he had to reapply for his job and of course he did not get appointed. The job went to a lady, fair enough, but I said at the time what happens to her if she is out on these lonely roads on her own with a flat tyre or worse. OH! she will be travelling with another Austpost employee for safety and you guessed it another lady because you could not have chap travelling with her. The position was also upgraded so the pay scale was increased and benefits.
    My mate was appointed to a clerical role in the back office in expectation he would resign which of course he did not.
    How many others has this happened too and what accountability is there for these useless managers delivering poor service, increased costs and poor organizational outcomes. FFS when will this stop?

    • Not so long ago I was running a project just out of Cloncurry
      The deal with the men on day shift was, if the temp in the shade was over 38 and the humidity over 70% you sat in the smoko huts for an hour, and if it stayed over, you went back to camp
      So this went on, we were losing a lot of time to the heat, and each day I was sending my site journal notes back to head office in Melb
      One day about 1 pm a boss from melb arrived in a hire car.
      Jumped out, came and saw me and we went over to the Stevenson Screen where the thermometers were located.
      By this time the heat had nearly flattened him, it was 42c dry bulb and 37c wetbulb.
      The men were in the smoko huts.
      He advised that he had been phoning the Cloncurry post office for a temp check, daily, and they never told him a figure over 38.
      On the way back he asked the po staff how come
      Oh we never say more than 38 or the tourists wont come!

  3. I’d argue it’s goning according to plan. I highly doubt there’s been a single privatised state or federal public asset that’s ever delivered improved efficiencies and services.

    • kierans777MEMBER

      Yes, well Rod Sims spilled the beans on how privatisation has failed to deliver lower costs or better quality of service. Rumour has it the Smocking Joe Hockey was quick smart on the phone blasting the shite of poor Rod because of the whole “Asset recycling scheme” that the feds were trying to sell the states.

    • This model is used by Govts all over the world where, for want of a better word, the neo-lib ideology is followed.
      No one has ever been able to explain how removing profits from an organisation makes the organisation more efficient, rather than just making 3rd parties rich.

  4. Australia Post has junior head office staff being paid ‘guaranteed bonuses’ on top of ‘at risk bonuses’. So you get a bonus simply for doing your job?

    It’s this institutionalised lunacy that is doing Australia Post in.

  5. What else would you expect from a govt. protected monopoly?
    You could understand using consultants if they were logistics consultants, but for PR it is a joke.
    Part of the issue is hiring/firing unhelpful unionised labour and all the award nonsense. Look at the US where when parcel delivery demand increases they simply take on more staff. Reality is in Australia with all the compliances, getting existing staff to work more is the go to option. Ultimately you get worn out staff.
    Equally management needs better performance metrics, so simply letting service standards slide should not be an option.
    Interesting that things don’t have to be so poor.
    Unlike Australia Post, even New Zealand Post by contrast have agencies open extended hours, i.e when people actually get free time to post stuff and also operates a market conpetitve courier service which solves a large part of the #1 complaint – parcel delivery because you have trained courier guys taking care if it and not posties. Outlets also offer a range of other services on contract.

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