Australia Post boss hits back
Embattled Australia Post boss Christine Holgate has signalled a bitter legal war could now loom over the Prime Minister's "humiliating" decision to stand her down.
In a bombshell statement released by her lawyers, Ms Holgate has revealed her own legal advice suggests there is "no basis" to stand her down.
She has also never formally agreed to stand aside as an investigation is launched into the purchase of Cartier watches by Australia Post for senior executives.
"Legally, in my opinion there are no grounds for Ms Holgate to be stood down, and 'optics' not a legally-valid defence," the statement from Bryan Belling, partner at employment law firm Kingston Reid says, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
"Nor has she been informed as to why she should be stood down."
The statement suggests that the Prime Minister's outburst in question time could prove costly, noting it was "now exactly seven days since Ms Holgate was the subject of a humiliating answer during Question Time".
During his answer, the Prime Minister revealed he had demanded she stand aside and "if she doesn't wish to do that, she can go".
Earlier, Ms Holgate's millionaire mentor leapt to her defence, saying she has been treated like "a dog" over the Cartier watches scandal and has been "crying for days" according to her millionaire mentor.
Accusing the Prime Minister of needlessly trashing her reputation, Blackmores vitamin empire chief Marcus Blackmore has slammed the treatment of the respected business leader as "disgusting" and over the top.
"You wouldn't do this to your dog … she might have been out of line but don't crucify her, for God's sake," Mr Blackmore said.
"I saw what it did to her, she was crying for days, she was devastated. It was awful."
Mr Blackmore, who retains a $320 million stake in the company but has chosen not to be paid "a pittance" as a non executive director, said he feared the "pile on" might destroy her.
"It was four watches, for God's sake. Women like Cartier watches. She likes watches, she wanted to give people something memorable."
Last week, Collingwood Football Club President Eddie McGuire, who has worked with Ms Holgate on the club's board, said he was left angry and disgusted when he watched the PM's extraordinary spray in Question Time and he hoped she would "get out" and go back to the private sector.
"I just thought it was a pile on. I don't know what the background is. But as somebody sitting there watching this, I just thought, 'Wow. This was a beat up where someone's getting beaten up. When you're running things it's intuitive,'' he said.
"I think how dumb is Australia? That we still go into the politics of envy? I mean, seriously. Why do we go and get superstar, business people to run public entities, and then try and make them play like dullards.
"If that was the case, Dick Pratt, Kerry Packer, Twiggy Forrest … anyone who's been any good in building their own life and their careers would have been sacked."
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Mr Blackmore added it was a bit rich for the media to attack Ms Holgate over her own $48,000 watch, which was purchased privately.
"What woman in Australia wouldn't like their husband to give her a Bulgari?" Mr Blackmore said.
"Blackmores business has been dismal since Christine left. There's been a leadership gap for Two-and-a-half years."
"I think our elected representatives and the media have treated Christine unfairly. She is devastated."
But the Prime Minister has defended his decision to demand Ms Holgate stand aside.
"Well, we are the shareholder on behalf of the taxpayers,'' he said.
"I think there wouldn't be a board member of a government agency or a CEO of a government agency that did not get my message yesterday. I think they got it with a rocket. And so, my advice to them is to get it."
Originally published as Won't stand down: Aus Post boss hits back