A Senate committee has revealed the staggering salaries being paid to Australia Post employees, after the company attempted to keep the information confidential.
The Prime Minister is calling on Australia Post’s board to reconsider the stunning $5.6 million pay packet given to managing director Ahmed Fahour.
Mr Fahour received a $4.4 million salary and a $1.2 million bonus last financial year to direct Australia Post.
Mr Turnbull was paid $522,000 last year.
Mr Turnbull, whose own popularity has plummeted in recent polls, has taken advantage of the controversy by publicly calling for Mr Fahour’s salary to be reduced.
“As the Prime Minister and a taxpayer, I’ve spoken to the chairman [of Australia Post today],” Mr Turnbull told reporters.
“I think that salary, that renumeration, is too high.
“I know it’s a big job, it’s a big company. I know 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.
“I’m entitled to my opinion, just like every other Australian is, and I think many would agree with me.”
Mr Turnbull explained that the Australia Post board is independent and makes its own commercial decisions, so Mr Fahour’s salary is not a decision of the government.
Aside from Mr Fahour’s generous wage, another five Australia Post executives received between $1.3 million and $1.8 million last financial year. The other executives were not named.
The salaries were revealed by a Senate committee yesterday, after Australia Post attempted to keep the salaries secret on the grounds that they would result in “unwarranted media attention” and “brand damage”.
The last time Mr Fahour’s salary was revealed, in 2014, he donated his $2 million “bonus” to a charity run by his brother.
The government-owned Australia Post has claimed that there is no public interest justification for disclosing its salaries.
However, Australia Post chairman John Stanhope has denied that Mr Fahour is being paid too much.
“That number, it has his base salary, it’s got some short-term incentives which he earned because the company went from loss to profit in the ’16 year, it also includes his superannuation. It’s everything,” he told the ABC’s AM program.
“It is a government business enterprise, that is true, but it isn’t actually taxpayer-funded, it’s self-funded, so it generates profit and generates its own cash.”
Mr Stanhope said Australia Post competes against multinational firms like DHL, FedEx and Toll in the competitive parcels business, “and we need to pay competitive salaries”.
An Australia Post spokesperson said Mr Fahour’s pay “takes into account the size and complexity of the organisation, which has an annual turnover of $6 billion”.
By way of comparison, Mr Fahour’s counterpart at Britain’s Royal Mail Service earns $2.4 million per year. The chief executive of Canada Post earns $500,000, and the US Postmaster General earns $545,000.
James Paterson, the Liberal senator serving as chairman of the committee responsible for releasing the information, called the package “extremely generous”.
“It makes him the highest paid public servant effectively in Australia, even more than the NBN CEO, who received about $3.6 million last financial year,” he said.
Mr Fahour’s salary has been a hot topic of discussion for politicans today. Labor’s Doug Cameron also called for Mr Fahour’s salary to be lowered.
“I just can’t for the life of me understand why any public servant would be paid over $5 million,” he said.
“I have appeared in estimates with Australia Post and I can’t see over $5 million worth of value of any individual.”
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said she was “absolutely disgusted” by the salary, while South Australian crossbench senator Nick Xenaphon told ABC TV “a lot of people will scratch their heads on that one”.
Australia Post made a $36 million profit in 2015-16, after posting a $222 million loss the previous financial year.
In 2015, the government-owned business announced major job cuts, which it attributed to the decline in popularity of its letter delivery service.
What’s your opinion? Vote in our poll and have your say in the comments below!
UPDATE: This poll is closed, and unsurprisingly, it was the most one-sided result we’ve ever had — 91 per cent of you said Mr Fahour doesn’t deserve the money. 5 per cent of you stuck up for him and voted that he does deserve it, and the final 4 per cent voted that it was none of our business either way.