Ahmed Fahour outgoing MD and CEO of Post appears before Senate estimates. Photo: Andrew MearesOutgoing Post managing director Ahmed Fahour has lashed out at One Nation leader Pauline Hanson for her “ill-informed” and “hurtful” comments about his Islamic faith at his final appearance before Senate estimates hearings.
Mr Fahour and Post chairman John Stanhope fielded many questions on Tuesday about Mr Fahour’s controversial $5.6 million salary and why Post tried to keep it secret.
Senator Hanson was one of the loudest critics of Mr Fahour’s salary and reacted gleefully to his announcement last week that he would resign, saying the news was “fantastic”.
“I’m still on the floor of Parliament, you’re unemployed, let’s hope you’re not going to get in the queues for employment,” she said in a Facebook message.
Ms Hanson later said: “I do have a problem with his religion if he’s actually a fundamentalist and follows the Koran to the letter, which I think denigrates women.”
Under questioning from Greens leader Richard Di Natale, Mr Fahour said Senator Hanson’s comments were “ill-informed” and that his faith was a private matter.
“I felt really sad for the Senator that she would descend to that level of commentary,” he said.
Mr Fahour, who was born in Lebanon, said her comments were “quite hurtful” to his wife and four children.
“We came here legitimately, we assimilated, and we love being in this country,” he said.
“I love this country so much.
“I feel sorry for Senator Hanson that she feels the need to say those things about someone whose 100 per cent objective is to do the right thing for the country . . . It’s with a very heavy heart I hear those comments and think how sad it is.”
Mr Fahour contrasted Senator Hanson with the other “honorable, decent and caring” senators from all parties who had questioned him over the years at Senate hearings.
Neither Ms Hanson nor any other One Nation senators have attended Tuesday’s hearings to ask questions of Mr Fahour.
When announcing his resignation last week, Mr Fahour took a swipe at Senator Hanson by saying Post was a considerably more complex business to run than a fish and chip shop.
Mr Stanhope admitted it was a mistake for Post not to disclose Mr Fahour’s salary for 2015 and 2016 – even though new rules implemented by the government allowed the company to keep it secret.
Post has now published a detailed breakdown of its executive pay on its website.
Mr Stanhope defended Mr Fahour’s salary although he acknowledged it was now “inconsistent with community expectations”.
“We need our salary packages to be commercially competitive to attract and retain talented people in a competitive, executive talent market,” he said.
Mr Stanhope said Post faced a “dilemma” because the salary of its chief executive will now be set by the independent Remuneration Tribunal.
Only time will tell if the salary is set at a high enough level to attract the talent the company needs, he said.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said he was not aware of Mr Fahour’s salary until it was revealed earlier this month, though he did know Mr Fahour was “well remunerated”.
Mr Stanhope said Malcolm Turnbull had raised concerns about Mr Fahour’s salary early in his tenure as communications minister and that he had explained why he felt the remuneration was appropriate.
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