Australia Post chief executive Ahmed Fahour has rejected suggestions that criticism of his $5.
6 million pay packet forced his surprise resignation, and launched a passionate defence of his record at the postal service.
Hours after Australia Post unveiled a healthy $131 million half-year profit on Thursday, the company confirmed Mr Fahour had tendered his resignation on Wednesday.
The 50-year-old former banker said the recent outcry over his salary – which is 10 times the size of the prime minister’s – “doesn’t bother me at all”, and said his seven-year transformation of the letters delivery business had saved taxpayers from a $6.7 billion bailout bill.
Mr Fahour said he was not quitting ahead of appearing before a senate committee next week, and that he began discussing his departure with Australia Post chairman John Stanhope last year.
“I have resigned because I have been in this job now seven years, and it’s time,” Mr Fahour told media in Melbourne.
He said the most important factor was the transformation of Australia Post, which was now complete, however there was “no question” that he had taken recent discussions about his salary into consideration.
Mr Fahour’s salary package was revealed at a parliamentary committee earlier this month after Australia Post sought to keep it confidential.
At the time, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called on Mr Fahour to take a pay cut, labelling it part of a “cult of excessive executive CEO remuneration”.
Mr Fahour on Thursday said Australia Post was not a taxpayer-funded organisation.
“We don’t take one dollar from the taxpayer,” he said.
“Yes we are taxpayer owned but we are not taxpayer funded.”
Mr Fahour will leave Australia Post in July, ending a seven and a half-year term during which he grew the company from a $1.5 billion legacy postal service to a $5 billion, profitable parcels business.
Referencing comparisons of his salary to the head of the US Postal service, Mr Fahour said Australia Post should not be compared to loss-making letter-delivery services but to large parcel delivery corporations with which it now competed.
“Those companies are global – there’s none left in Australia,” he said.
Mr Fahour said he was most proud of saving 10,000 jobs at Australia Post through redeployment but Australian Manufacturing Workers Union Print National Secretary Lorraine Cassin said his departure was welcome.
“Mr Fahour will be remembered by workers as being paid millions while presiding over thousands of job losses, the introduction of a tiered mail service and a rise in the price of postage,” she said.
Federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield on Thursday sought to have the next Australia Post CEO’s salary overseen by the government Remuneration Tribunal.
The half-year result on Thursday marks a continued turnaround from 2014/15, when Australia Post made a $222 million loss.
Mr Fahour said Australia Post had delivered $4 billion in dividends, taxes and subsidies to the Australian public during his term and had avoided needing a $6.7 billion government bailout – a possibility flagged by the federal government in 2014.