26 Aug Union anger over postie’s pay
Lucy Battersby — The Sydney Morning Herald — 26 August 2017
Unions have called on the government to sack Australia Post chairman John Stanhope after it emerged former chief executive Ahmed Fahour received a $10.8 million pay packet in his final year.
Mr Fahour’s $8.7 million in bonuses on top of a $2.04 million base salary attracted criticism from various quarters on Friday, from the Prime Minister down, although the company laid the blame on a contract struck back in 2010.
“[John] Stanhope should resign immediately,” Victorian state secretary of the Communications Workers Union, Leroy Lazaro, said.
“If he refuses, the minister should step in and sack him. It is obscene that Ahmed Fahour is walking away with nearly $11 million as a pay-off for slashing the postal services of all Australians. Our members, who are receiving a less than CPI [inflation] pay rise, are absolutely outraged.Mr Turnbull described
Mr Turnbull described Mr Fahour’s pay as “too high” and said it was based on decisions taken by the Australia Post board some time ago.
“We have now made changes to make sure the Remuneration Tribunal sets the salary at Australia Post … [and] taken steps to ensure the salary is proportionate to the task at hand,” he said on Friday.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield also leaned on Mr Stanhope to explain the payments, saying the board was responsible.
“This situation cannot happen again as this government in February gave the Remuneration Tribunal the authority to cap the new managing director’s salary.”
But Mr Stanhope tried to distance himself and the rest of the board from Mr Fahour’s pay packet, saying the original employment contract signed by the board in 2010 was to blame.
“Back when the contract for the former CEO was entered into, before my time, community expectations were different,” Mr Stanhope said.
“Times were different in 2010. There is no question about that. And contracts were very different.”
“It was a contract aimed at enticing a high-level, talented executive to transform Australia Post and that was the basis of that contract. And we have observed our obligations under that contract.”
Australia Post had now scrapped the long-term incentive plan to “adjust for community expectations”, Mr Stanhope said.
Mr Stanhope was appointed chairman of the government-owned postal company in November 2012 and has headed the board’s nomination and remuneration committee since then. His chairmanship was renewed in November 2016.
Australia Post resumed publishing executive remuneration details in February after keeping them under wraps for several years. It was eventually forced to reveal pay packets to an outraged parliamentary committee earlier this year.
Mr Stanhope pointed out that Mr Fahour received 90 per cent of his short-term incentive and only 66.6 per cent of his long-term incentive. His $10.8 million package does not include any termination payment.
Victorian Liberal senator James Paterson, who chaired the committee that forced Australia Post to reveal executive salaries, said it was “scandalous” that directors thought it would be okay to keep Mr Fahour’s salary a secret.
“At some point, the board thought it was an appropriate salary and thought it was acceptable to keep it out of public scrutiny,” Senator Paterson said.
Incoming Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate will receive a base salary of $1.375 million a year, with the potential to earn 100 per cent of that as a bonus.