I was suicidal after Post furore: Holgate

Christine Holgate has accused the prime minister of humiliating her before she left her job.
Christine Holgate has accused the prime minister of humiliating her before she left her job.

Christine Holgate has revealed she was suicidal after being forced out as Australia Post boss in a scathing excoriation of Scott Morrison.

The former chief executive launched an explosive attack on the prime minister and Australia Post chairman Lucio Di Bartolomeo at a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

Ms Holgate controversially departed Australia Post after Mr Morrison angrily condemned her in parliament over a luxury watches scandal.

"I lost my job, a job that I loved, because I was humiliated by our prime minister for committing no offence and then bullied by my chairman," she told the committee.

She said Mr Di Bartolomeo unlawfully stood her down under the direction of the prime minister, making her leadership untenable.

Ms Holgate said the tone of her email to government ministers asking for a meeting about her job showed the damage to her mental health.

"If you read that note and I apologise in advance, that it is rambling and it is rambling because I was seriously ill. I was on temazepam. I was suicidal," she said.

Mr Di Bartolomeo faced the most damning allegations with Ms Holgate accusing him of throwing her under a bus so he could "curry favour" with political masters.

Ms Holgate said all but one member of the Australia Post board had close ties to the coalition, as she rejected its independence.

With local post office operators and some politicians agitating for her to be reinstated, Ms Holgate declared Mr Di Bartolomeo would need to leave for her to return.

"I cannot work for a chair that lies in the Senate and does not have integrity."

The ex-Post chief said she was depicted as a prostitute and humiliated in a way no male public servant was subjected to.

"Do I believe it's partially a gender issue? You're absolutely right I do," Ms Holgate said.

"But do I believe the real problem here is bullying and harassment and abuse of power? You're absolutely right I do."

In a blistering opening statement, a defiant Ms Holgate said she wanted to speak out to stop workplace bullying and harassment.

"This is a day the chairman of Australia Post and the other men involved in what happened to me will be held to account."

Mr Di Bartolomeo insisted the organisation supported her and it was "parliament and the media" that made her life difficult.

"Christine Holgate's been treated abysmally but I believe the board and management did the right things by her," he told the committee.

"I don't believe Australia Post owes her an apology. But I do believe she was badly treated."

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher expressed a strong desire for Ms Holgate to stand aside in two phone calls to the chair before the explosive Question Time in October.

Mr Di Bartolomeo insisted she agreed to stand down, which she claims is a lie, before resigning less than two weeks later

"If she did not do that then we would have to consider whether we would take other action," Mr Di Bartolomeo said.

In parliament, Mr Morrison said Ms Holgate "could go" if she didn't want to stand aside but Mr Di Bartolomeo denied he interpreted that as a direction.

He rejected Ms Holgate's calls for him to quit, saying board stability is essential.

"Australia Post has been taken through a very difficult patch and my view is until I believe differently I will not be resigning," Mr Di Bartolomeo said.

Ms Holgate quit under immense pressure after it emerged she gifted four luxury watches to executives as a reward for signing a lucrative deal.

She said there were coalition MPs "accused of the most terrible atrocities to women" allowed to remain in their jobs while she was forced to stand down.

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Australian Associated Press