08 Feb Australia Post boss on $5.6m for year
Sam Buckingham-Jones — The Australian — 8 February, 2017
The chief executive of Australia Post was the nation’s highest paid public servant last year, taking home more than $5.6 million — a figure the organisation tried to keep secret.
Former National Australia Bank boss Ahmed Fahour, who was appointed Australia Post chief executive in early 2010, took home a salary of about $4.4m and a bonus of $1.2m, letters between a Senate committee and the public company reveal.
The information was requested by a committee that heard Senate Estimates in October last year, however Australia Post did not provide a breakdown of its executives’ salaries until mid-December.
In letters between the Standing Committee on Environment and Communications and the public company, senior staff at Australia Post argued releasing details of its executives’ salaries would harm the company’s interests and be an “unreasonable disclosure of personal information”.
“With over 70 per cent of the Australia Post business operating in a commercial environment … the disclosure of such information may harm the commercial interests of Australia Post and the senior executive team,” one senior staffer said.. They also asked for a week’s notice if the information was to be released to “manage and plan for any issues that will arise from a stakeholder perspective”.
One unnamed executive was given $380,000 as a retirement benefit. The documents also reveal Australia Post has contributed less than half what it once did in cash payments to the federal government. It paid $422m last year, down from $892m in 2009.
Senator James Paterson, who chairs the committee, said the information is overwhelmingly in the public interest.
“The senior management are the highest paid public servants in the country,” he said.
“Unfortunately, Australia Post attempted to provide those on a confidential basis. Senate Estimates are conducted in a public place, so Australia Post’s argument this needs to be private did not add up.”
Senator Paterson said he trusts the company’s board to make the final call on salary, but it should not be treated any different to other similar government bodies.
“I’m happy to put my faith in the Australia Post board determining an appropriate wage, and if they feel the performance justifies that wage, that’s fair enough,” he said.
“What I can’t accept is that the public isn’t entitled to know this.” Australia Post did not respond to requests for comment.
This article originally appeared in The Australian.