Credit:Illustration: Cathy Wilcox
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Calling to account those who tore her down
The executives who negotiated a deal for post offices to handle banking for their local communities made a significant contribution to the livelihoods of those outlets. Well done. But should they get a bonus for doing their jobs? Do intensive care nurses get bonuses for saving lives? Or rubbish collectors get one for doing a job that makes a difference to everyone in their local municipalities? Or workers who support people in aged care?
Regardless of the merits or otherwise of the arguments for bonuses, Christine Holgate acted within her capacity as CEO to implement what Australia Post expected of her. She had the chairman’s approval to reward its executives.
Scott Morrison’s call in Parliament for her to “go” speaks volumes: he reacted with outrage in the context of community outrage at the notion of a taxpayer-funded excess, but ignored the fact that she was doing the job asked of her within the culture of Australia Post. He has not brought the same standards to his own ministers in relation to their conduct and asked them to “go”. I applaud Christine Holgate for defending her reputation and calling to account those who tore her down as a professional woman.
Tiffany Lovegrove, Croydon
No excuses for humiliation of a successful woman
Courageous leaders do not make excuses. They apologise. The Prime Minister’s tirade against Christine Holgate was a major misstep, only reinforcing widely held perceptions of his inability to handle difficult situations. Following closely on a report from management consulting firm BCG, whose recommendations would result in more privatisation at Australia Post, leading to job losses and curtailment of already reduced services, it is obvious the outburst was informed by political considerations
Regardless of the politics behind the outburst, this does not excuse the public humiliation of a successful executive. At a time of extreme sensitivity around women, the Prime Minister has again shown not only a lack of empathy and a tin ear but also an inability to put his ego aside. The longer he resists apologising, the worse it will get.
Maria Millers, Emerald
When some rewards are good and others are not
There seems to be a double standard. Four Australia Post executives who clinched a multimillion-dollar deal to make hundreds of small post offices throughout Australia viable were given Cartier watches worth a total of $20,000 while NBN Co executives carved up about $75 million in bonuses in the second half of 2020 – for what? Has the CEO of NBN Co been sacked or is he a male?
Warren Thomas, Ivanhoe
When leaving a job you love is the only option
Christine Holgate was subjected to a campaign of constructive dismissal. This cowardly process makes a person’s job so untenable that, under mental distress and duress, they quit a job they love. The chairman of Australia Post, the Prime Minister, the Opposition Leader and the media were all complicit in her demise. This mental harassment has long-term effects on the victim’s wellbeing. About 20 years ago I was the victim of this process. I know.
Merilyn Grey, Malvern East
Morrison fine ‘standards’ should be applied to all
Most Australians would share the Prime Minister’s concern about how taxpayer funds are used in government-owned companies. His ill-informed diatribe against Christine Holgate was, he said, simply “standing up for proper standards”. But, disturbingly, there is little evidence of “proper standards” surrounding a growing list of Coalition scandals including purchase of water rights, extravagant travel expenses for politicians, purchase of airport land and rampant pork barrelling. It is no wonder he wants to gut the Auditor-General’s Department. And by the way, does he want us to believe that a privatised Australia Post will reduce executive perks?
Norman Huon, Port Melbourne
The JobKeeper rorters
Christine Holgate rewarded executives with watches worth $20,000 (this was within her remit) for a job extremely well done. Scott Morrison is not doing anything about all the companies whose profits have gone up but which refuse to give back their JobKeeper money. He did not check his facts before his tirade against Christine Holgate. There is no question about who has to go.
Rita Reid, Port Melbourne
Choose advisers carefully
Scott Morrison’s refusal to apologise to Christine Holgate for his comments in Parliament shows the same lack of judgment in so many of his decisions – for example, not attending the Women’s March 4 Justice. It leaves me wondering who is advising him apart from his wife, Jen.
John Wyatt, Armadale
PM’s very flexible rules
The Prime Minister has been very critical of the way taxpayer funds were used by Christine Holgate when she was CEO of Australia Post. However, he vehemently defends, on the basis of “being within the guidelines”, any questions relating to what often appears to be the misuse of taxpayer funds by those in government. The most recent example being more than $17million spent on VIP flights for MPs (The Age, 12/4) who surely could have accessed commercial flights. One rule for some.
Máire Mills, Glen Iris
Evidence of misogyny
I always felt that the four Cartier watches were insufficient reason for Scott Morrison’s over-the-top performance in Parliament. However, Elizabeth Knight (Business, 14/4) points out, in relation to Christine Holgate, that, “in the course of her evidence to yesterday’s Senate committee inquiry, it became clear she did not agree with plans to privatise Australia Post”.
Standing in the way of the ideological imperative of this government to privatise government enterprises, especially if they are profitable, is asking for the proverbial steamroller to run right over you; that is exactly what Mr Morrison did to Christine Holgate. In the context of claims that the government is riddled with misogynistic, bullying behaviour, Christine Holgate’s treatment by Morrison could not have provided better evidence.
Maurie Trewhella, Hoppers Crossing
‘We’ are Australian
Imagine you are a Chinese Australian. You may have a heritage of exploitation from the gold rush days when your family was tolerated as long as they were not too successful or too numerous, or you may be a more recent arrival, even a refugee from the oppression of the Chinese Communist Party.
Now it is Australia in 2021 and you are regarded as part of an ethnic warehouse to supply the public service when Chinese speakers are needed (The Age, 12/4) but at the same time you are regarded as a potential security risk. We do not, of course, want to go to the trouble of training our “own” citizens in Chinese language and culture, which is even harder work than panning for gold, so we continue to rely on ready-made Chinese Australians for information about their alien culture while making it plain we distrust “them”.
Dr Trevor Hay, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne
Please, say that again
Colin Chapman – “Contemporary concerns” (Letters, 14/4) – let us hope maths students have highly developed language skills so that they can benefit from “a program of educational opportunity that embeds technology-agnostic computation, stochastic and heuristic sensibilities as a platform from which pedagogical renewal in mathematics may emerge”.
Angela O’Connor, Glen Iris
For me, a risk worth taking
According to the data, the blood clots associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine impact roughly one in 200,000 people. A quarter of those, one in 800,000, may die from the condition. As someone who wants to see a return to relatively normality, and who desperately wants to see family overseas, the potential deaths of around 30 Australians in 25million from this rare condition is something I am selfishly willing to accept, and risk myself by taking the shot. I will take it as soon as it is offered.
This is far from our greatest threat. We stand to lose so much more by not steamrolling ahead, including another potential outbreak triggering large numbers of deaths in our vulnerable communities; not to mention years of separation from our loved ones outside the country and the billions of dollars in lost revenue from our hermetically sealed international border.
James O’Keefe, East Melbourne
Protect aged care heroes
Re “Aged care, disability staff scramble for jabs” (The Age, 14/4). During the lockdowns, personal care workers stepped up to provide the care and companionship to aged care residents when relatives were unable to visit. In my family’s experience, they are the unsung heroes of the aged care system.
They enable residents to retain a modicum of independence and ensure they feel part of a community. Without them, the wheels would truly fall off our struggling aged care system. My family is fortunate that our mother and all residents at her home have received both doses of the vaccine. However, it is essential that vaccinations for staff are the priority in this botched rollout. Greg Hunt and James Merlino, make it happen.
Felicity Browne, Kooyong
Let’s try diplomacy first
Assistant Defence Minister Andrew Hastie says: “The ADF’s core business will always be the application of lethal violence in the defence of our values, sovereignty and interests.” Indeed. But surely one of our values is to use it as a last resort. In Iraq and Afghanistan, lethal violence was our action of first choice. In East Timor, our show of force was enough. When will we stop deploying our lethal violence in fruitless military engagements when diplomacy and engagement will be more productive of peace and prosperity?
Dick Danckert, Armstrong Creek
Futility and cost of war
NATO, the US and Australia are withdrawing their troops from Afghanistan after the longest war in our history. How many lives have been destroyed, how much money has been wasted? No doubt on what will be proven to be just as futile as the Vietnam War.
Reg Murray, Glen Iris
Protecting workers’ jobs
Branch closures (The Age, 13/4) are just the end stage of banks’ disregard for customer convenience. By providing fewer staff and less service in branches, they can then use the self-fulfilling argument that account holders do not want to bank in person. One branch in my area stations a staff member at the door to inquire why customers want to enter and then “remind” them of functions which may be performed at the ATM outside. I informed him that, having once been retrenched, I am trying to keep him and his colleagues in jobs. I doubt his bosses are listening.
Elizabeth Morris, Elsternwick
Truly a disgusting state…
Peter Boone (Letters, 15/4) I am disgusted at the state of all our highways and freeways, not just the Eastern. The Ring Road and Tulla, not to mention the West Gate and Monash freeways – piles of rubbish along the roadsides, long grass and dead weeds, graffiti on everything, broken signs and fences. Clearly VicRoads has cut its maintenance, and Melbourne looks like a disgraceful mess. Recently I met my local MP, Melissa Horne, to talk about this, so I am hoping someone in the Victorian government will do something. We pay enough in taxes, regos etc, and VicRoads needs to maintain our roads.
Scott Young, Yarraville
… on roads and highways
I am in total agreement with Peter Boone regarding the Eastern Freeway. It is the same all over Melbourne – weeds growing metres high in median strips, broken branches left for months on the sides of roads. The beginning of Queens Road off St Kilda Road is so ugly. Melbourne is a disgrace. Not so in the country towns, which are well kept. Melburnians should be demanding better
Margery Renwick, Brighton
Phil, just one of the boys
I knew Prince Philip when he was a plain lieutenant during the war at the South East Asia Command where his uncle, Lord Mountbatten, was the Supreme Allied Commander. He was one of us, very down to earth and fun loving. The rest is history. RIP Phil.
Fred Menzies, North Dandenong
Our warped priorities
At least 474 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died in custody since the royal commission findings around deaths in custody was tabled in 1991. That is an average of nearly 16 a year over the 30 years since 1991. No outrage, no outpouring of grief, no apologies and crucially, no end to the deaths. One irrelevant (to me) 99-year-old, privileged Brit dies and that is all you can read, see or hear in the media. It seems to me we have our values all wrong.
Jack Morris, Kennington
Double plane standard?
Why is it that the Morrison government had enough planes to offer an ex-minister, Mathias Cormann, a plane to fly around Europe looking for a job, while it now claims there are no planes available to transport a member of Parliament, Kristina Keneally, to Christmas Island to do her work? It looks like a vindictive action by our Defence Minister, Peter Dutton.
Shaun Lawrence, Richmond
Unfair attack on PM’s wife
How can women expect men to show respect to them if women cannot show respect to other women? I refer to the comment made by Magda Szubanski about the Prime Minister’s wife. Quite deplorable and unnecessary. I have always believed that woman’s worst enemy is women. Remarks like this do nothing to make me change my mind.
Trish Young, Hampton
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
The federal government’s shifting vaccination plans offer one guarantee: herd anxiety.
Matt Dunn, Leongatha
Morrison may have to offer Cartier watches to the public servants who rustle up more vaccines.
Graham Hackett, Hurstbridge
Why are we worried about the rollout’s tardiness? After all, the government is keeping us safe with its amazing COVIDSafe app.
Jill Rosenberg, Caulfield South
Could Holgate be in charge of the rollout? It will be done efficiently, fairly and might make a profit.
Barb Roysland, Port Fairy
Has the national cabinet become a playgroup for the PM? A favourite game is pass the buck.
Ralph Tabor, Pakenham
Did Scott Morrison receive performance bonuses when he worked for Tourism Australia?
Ian Jones, South Yarra
The PM addressing Ms Holgate and Ms Higgins by their first names made me cringe. Condescending and patronising.
Margaret Burbidge, Ararat
The same media and Opposition castigating the PM for throwing Holgate under the wheels were, a few months ago, driving the Outrage Bus straight at her.
Brian Davids, Balwyn North
I’d have thought treating an employee “abysmally” would warrant an apology. Not according to the chairman of Australia Post.
Graeme Riviere, Warranwood
Congratulations to the Victorian government on increasing the bag limit for duck shooters. We definitely need to kill more wildlife.
Jon O’Neill, Waurn Ponds
Oh dear, DP (Crossword, 14/4). Twelve dozen or 144 is a gross, not 1440.
Carolyn Reynolds, Lake Boga
Having followed the US, sheep-like, into Afghanistan, we follow it out. Korea, Vietnam and Iraq taught us nothing. Will we learn from this latest fiasco?
Tony Haydon, Springvale
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