Australia Post CEO Ahmed Fahour’s salary unreasonable when compared to international peers-NewsCO

February 8, 2017

Updated

February 08, 2017 15:59:18

The managing director of Australia Post, Ahmed Fahour, has seen his salary package more than double — to a staggering $5.6 million — since he joined the government business enterprise (GBE) in February 2010.

The company’s 2009 annual report shows former head Graeme John was already easily the highest paid Commonwealth bureaucrat, enjoying a total package worth a touch over $2.5 million. The next highest paid head of a GBE is NBN chief Bill Morrow on $3.6 million.

The Prime Minister makes $522,000 a year.

One of the arguments for Mr Fahour’s fat remuneration is that he runs a complex business and attracting people with his skillset is hard. It is also true that mail services everywhere are being disrupted by electronic communication.

Add to that Australia’s vast landmass (7.7 million square kilometres) and small population of just 24 million, and you can justify a reasonable wage for the top postman.

But what is reasonable? In Australian business the usual justification for vast executive salary packages is that they have to compete on a world stage. So let’s run the ruler over Mr Fahour’s peers.

The chief executive of Canada Post, Deepak Chopra, gets $CAN500,000 a year and an unfavourable exchange rate means that translates to $497,000 here. His beat covers a country of 10 million square kilometres and a population of just over 35 million people.

The privatisation of Royal Mail has bumped Moya Greene’s salary and that caused something of a stir in Britain. The chief executive now takes home 1.529 million pounds, or about $2.5 million, if she wanted to spend her wodge buying Australian stamps. She has a relatively tiny landmass to worry about, a mere 244,000 square kilometres, but she has 64 million people to service.

The US still quaintly calls the head of the post office the Postmaster General. It also has an old school approach to paying bureaucrats. The 74th Postmaster General is Megan Brennan and she pockets a modest $US415,291, or $543,616 in our money.

That seems fair for getting the mail through rain, snow, sleet and hail to a population of 319 million people spread across 9.8 million square kilometres.

So the managing director and chief executive of Australia Post is not just the highest paid man in the Commonwealth’s service, he appears to be the highest paid postal executive on the planet. In fact, Australia Post’s old annual reports suggest the top five executives all make more than a $1 million a year.

In the last few years there are increasing signs that Mr Fahour’s salary is an embarrassment to the organisation. In 2009 the annual report listed executive remuneration by name. The names were expunged in 2011 but you could still get the numbers and could assume that number one on the list was Mr Fahour.

Amid a furore over his wage last year Mr Fahour opted to forego his $2 million “bonus”. He decided to do that by donating the money to a charity run by his brother.

To avoid similar embarrassment this year, Australia Post took the extraordinary step of expunging the details of executive remuneration from its annual report.

And the argument for doing that? Well, an Australia Post spokesman wrote to a Senate committee arguing that there was “no public justification for disclosing salaries”.

“Australia Post and/or those individuals may become targets for unwarranted media attention,” a spokesman said.

“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.”

This is an extraordinary admission.

Putting it in the mildest possible terms, a reasonable person could argue media attention on Mr Fahour’s huge salary is hardly “unwarranted”. He is, at base, a public servant who is, by any measure, paid well beyond any of his peers.

A couple of points arise from this.

If Australia Post is not required by law to produce executive remuneration in its annual report in a format that is easily understandable to a casual reader, it should be and the Government should demand it.

Topics:

public-sector,

government-and-politics,

australia

First posted

February 08, 2017 11:41:04

8 February 2017 | 12:41 am

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