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Foliage fever: AusPost spends $800k on pot plants

·3-min read
When does an office become a jungle? Image: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
When does an office become a jungle? Image: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Everyone has a plant friend; someone whose succulents, maidenhair ferns and fiddle-leaf fig trees seem to multiply in seconds and whose home is more Jumanji than suburban pad.

However, unless you move in some pretty exclusive circles, there’s a fair chance your plant friend hasn’t dropped a casual $800,000 on their obsession, like Australia Post has.

AusPost spent $382,604 on plants and greenery in the 2018-2019 financial year, and another $378,240 on plants in the 2019-2020 financial year, the postal service shared with Shadow Assistant Minister for Government Accountability Kimberley Kitching.

It has also spent another $64,118 in the 2020 financial year so far. For those following along at home, that’s a $824,962 outlay.

The plants have been shared across 25 offices across Australia from Frenchams indoor plants service.

Over the 2019-2020 and 2018-2019 financial years, that’s around $15,216.88 per office per year.

Yahoo Finance understands the plants are part of Australia Post’s sustainability commitments, with the plants required to meet a ratio to absorb CO2 and emit oxygen.

Chauffeurs, Cartier watches in spotlight

These numbers come after it was revealed that Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate had hired a $3,000-a-day “reputation management” firm and spent $300,000 on corporate credit cards and chauffeur-driven cars.

Australia Post also spent $12,000 to buy four Cartier watches for executives, it told a Senate estimates committee today.

“There were a small number of senior people who had put an inordinate amount of work in and they did receive an award from the chair, myself on behalf of the board … They got watches … They were a Cartier watch of about a value of $3000 each,” Holgate said.

She said the watches weren’t paid for using taxpayer money, but couldn’t specify which corporate card the watches were put on.

Holgate took home a $2.6 million salary in 2019 which included a $830,000 bonus. This fell to $.16 million this year after she took a voluntary 20 per cent pay cut and the Australia Post board vetoed her bonus.

Are they on the right track with the plants?

While the $800,000 sum is more than the average worker can spend on sprucing up their office space, the verdict is in: plants boost productivity, creativity and happiness.

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that incorporating some greenery into your desk space can improve productivity by 15 per cent.

Another study of workers in Japan found that those who took just three minutes a day to gaze upon and care for a desk plant were less stressed than they were at the beginning of the trial.

Even NASA is on board: research released by the space agency in 1989 found that indoor plants boost indoor air quality, while CSIRO research has found that poor air quality could actually cost the economy as much as $12 billion a year due to the impacts on workers’ health and their environments.

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