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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Australia's highest-paid public servant quits £3.4m post job

Australia Post chief Ahmed Fahour has denied that his resignation is linked to the outcry over his £3.4m salary
Australia Post chief Ahmed Fahour has denied that his resignation is linked to the outcry over his £3.4m salary

Australia's highest-paid public servant has resigned, two weeks after a revelation that he made £3.4 million last year sparked public outrage.

Australia Post managing director Ahmed Fahour said he was quitting the national mail service on the same day the government-owned corporation posted a profit of 131 million Australian dollars for the six months through December.

The figure was a big jump from the 16 million-dollar profit the corporation made in the same half a year earlier.

Lebanese-born former banker Mr Fahour, 50, said he was leaving because Australia Post had transformed from a traditional mail service to a parcel and e-commerce business during his seven years at the helm.

His resignation was not caused by the widespread anger at his high salary, he said.

"Clearly, this has been a very difficult and emotional decision for me and my family," he said.

"But I've come to the conclusion that the timing is right. As the half-year results show, the transformation has worked."

Mr Fahour said he would leave Australia Post in July, following the announcement of his successor.

Earlier this month, a Senate committee revealed Mr Fahour's pay despite objections from Australia Post that making it public could damage the corporation's brand.

His 4.4 million-dollar salary plus a 1.2 million bonus in the last fiscal year was more than 10 times the prime minister's salary of 507,000 dollars.

By contrast, US Postal Service chief executive and postmaster general Megan Brennan's salary was 286,137 dollars last year.

But Mr Fahour said Australia Post should not be compared to the loss-making US Postal Service.

"They are a letters company and, by the way, they lose 20 billion a year and have done so now for a number of years," he said.

"That's not the right comparison. We need to be compared to other parcels logistics companies, e-commerce companies - and those companies are global."

When Mr Fahour's pay was made public, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, a former merchant banker with a personal fortune estimated at more than 200 million dollars, said he told Australia Post chairman John Stanhope that the salary was too high.

"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 Turnbull told reporters.

The highest paid Australian public servant after Mr Fahour was Bill Morrow, chief executive of Australia's government-owned NBN, who was paid 3.6 million dollars last year, including a 1.2 million bonus.

NBN is rolling out Australia's national broadband network.

AP

Press Association

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