Aus Post CEO hits back at Pauline Hanson
OUTGOING Australia Post chief executive Ahmed Fahour has used his resignation announcement to take a not-so-subtle swipe at one of his biggest critics, Senator Pauline Hanson.
The $5.6 million-man confirmed he would step down from his role on Wednesday after tendering his resignation to the postal service's board.
The highly paid executive's extraordinary salary has attracted political pressure from all sides, but the One Nation leader had always been among his most vocal critics.
And Mr Fahour made sure he had a chance to hit back on his way out.
"One of the things that is sometimes lost among many people is the size and extent of this organisation. This is a very large organisation with a very large footprint," he said. "It is fair to say it is a little bit more complex than running a fish-and-chip shop."
The comment has been perceived as a veiled attack on the critical former fish-and-chip shop owner turned senator.
Senator Hanson reacted to the news with a cynical Facebook post. "Look who's conveniently quit before estimates next week," she wrote.
Earlier, Mr Fahour denied his resignation was in response to pressure over his generous pay packet. "The main reason why I am hanging up the footy boots at Australia Post is I've done seven years in this job - the average CEO in this country is lasting around three years," Mr Fahour told the Herald Sun. "Seven years is a long time ... particularly as it is a 24-7 job."
It came after the government-owned business posted a bumper first-half profit of $131 million off strong growth in parcel volumes, despite a further 11 per cent decline in letters.
"By any measure, Ahmed has done an astounding job in transforming the business," Australia Post chairman John Stanhope said in a statement. "When he started, he was set the challenge to 'write the next chapter in the history of Australia Post' - and he certainly rose to that challenge.
"Now, with the business entering the next phase of its transformation, Ahmed's decision to resign provides opportunity for a new leader to continue the development of Australia Post into a leading international eCommerce player.
"Ahmed was appointed at a time when Post was still highly dependent on revenue from the letters service, but the community's use of letters had already peaked and was in the early stages of decline.
"He led the team that developed an entirely new strategy focused on investing in the parcels and eCommerce business. It was the right strategy. It has put Australia Post on a pathway to a sustainable future and avoiding a taxpayer bailout."
Following Mr Fahour's resignation, the Communications Minister Mitch Fifield and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann announced a new proposal to strip the Australia Post board of the ability to set pay and conditions for the managing director.
The proposal would hand that responsibility to the Remuneration Tribunal.
Earlier this month, Australia Post came under intense criticism for attempting to block the release of Mr Fahour's salary information.
He has earned $23 million to date in his seven years in the top job, and will be eligible for a whopping $4.3 million retirement payout when he turns 60.
At the time, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Mr Fahour's remuneration package was "too high" and that he had spoken to the Australia Post board chair.
"This is not a decision of the government," Mr Turnbull said. "I've spoken to the chairman today. I think that salary, that remuneration is too high. Now, it's a matter for the board. I think it is too high. I know it is a big job. It is a big company. The company has been able to improve its position.
"But in my view - and I say this as someone who spent most of his life in the business world before I came into politics - I think that is a very big salary for that job."
Mr Stanhope claimed there had been "no intention to try and hide anything" about Mr Fahour's pay. "We've reported it every year as required. It did change in 2015 when the requirement was to do it by individual," he told The Australian.
"We're not trying to hide anything. We are reporting as we are required to report. The Senate asked questions on notice and we responded and gave them all the information."
Mr Fahour told the Herald Sun he had not spoken to Mr Turnbull about the move. "No, I gave the letter to the board," he said. "That is literally for the chairman and the board to communicate with the shareholder which would be Communications Minister Mitch Fifield and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann."