Prime Minister Scott Morrison is refusing to apologise to former Australia Post Chief Executive Christine Holgate after she accused him of “bullying” her in the wake of the Cartier watch scandal.
Ms Holgate told a Senate inquiry yesterday that she believed she was forced to stand aside by the chair of the company because the Prime Minister had “instructed” it.
Ms Holgate gave four senior executives the watches, worth around $20,000 in total, for securing a lucrative banking deal for the organisation in 2018.
Yesterday, she told the inquiry she could have given them up to $150,000 in bonuses instead.
Speaking in Question Time last year Mr Morrison said he was “appalled” by the decision to give four Cartier watches to executive staff, and that it “did not pass the pub test”.
He said if Ms Holgate did not want to stand aside then “she can go”.
She said the comment “humiliated” her and told 7.30 she wanted an apology.
“So maybe if the PM is watching, he could give me a call,” she said.
“I would love an apology.”
Speaking on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said he did not intend to offend Ms Holgate.
“The language in the Parliament was very strong,” he said.
“It was not my intention to cause distress to Ms Holgate and I regret any distress that that strong language may have caused to her, and indeed did cause to her.
“That was not my intention.”
But he said he would not apologise for the comments and did not think he needed to call Ms Holgate personally to express that he did not mean to cause her distress.