A Senate committee in Australia published documents on Feb. 7 showing the salaries of senior executives at Australia Post, a government-owned corporation. Those executives had tried to stop it from doing so, and now it’s clear why: They make a bundle.
The committee decided it was in the public interest to reveal that last year Ahmed Fahour, managing director of Australia Post, raked in A$5.6 million (US$4.3 million), receiving a A$1.2 million bonus and A$4.4 million in annual salary. By contrast, the nation’s prime minister makes just over A$500,000 per year.
The documents did not reveal names, but they showed that five other senior executives at Australia Post also out-earned the prime minister, with each taking in between A$1.3 million and A$1.8 million per year. (One also claimed a retirement benefit of A$380,000.)
In fighting to keep the salary information private, an Australia Post spokesman argued: “Australia Post and/or those individuals may become targets for unwarranted media attention. This may lead to brand damage for Australia Post which when operating in a competitive market, may be significantly detrimental to our business and future profitability.”
In 2015 Australia Post slashed 1,900 jobs in response to decreasing demand for its traditional letter delivery service. It reported at the time that losses were approaching A$500 million for the financial year, and that over the past five years they had exceeded A$1.5 billion.
Fahour warned in June of that year:
“We have reached the tipping point that we have been warning about where, without reform, the business becomes unsustainable. We welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to support reform so we can manage the mail service losses, meet the changing needs of our customers and continue to invest in growing parts of our business such as parcels and trusted services.”
A spokeswoman said this week that Australia Post has an annual turnover of more than A$6 billion, and that 73% of its revenue comes from the non-regulated side of the business, where the company faces powerful competitors like FedEx and DHL.
But today Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said he will call on the postal service to reconsider Fahour’s pay package. Senator Doug Cameron of the opposition Labor party also called for the postal chief’s pay to be lowered, saying, “I just can’t for the life of me understand why any public servant would be paid over A$5 million.”
Image by Tim on Flickr, licensed under CC-BY-2.0.