Thursday, 18 June 2015
For over 200 years Australia Post has been trusted by Australians to provide postal service stamps and parcels. Every day, your local postie provides a great national service. However, with the evolution of online transactions and the communications digital revolution, combined with the major decline in letter volumes and the rise in parcel deliveries, the local post office is having to evolve and adapt to remain viable. No longer is the post office just a place to buy a stamp or send a letter. It is much more. It is a community hub providing other goods and services.
Australian Post has itself become one of the biggest logistics businesses in the country thanks to the increase in parcel deliveries and the digital revolution. The digital revolution has caused this to become such a complex issue. However, in my opinion the argument is simple: the local post office is a vital part of the community and as leaders we must do what we can to ensure the local post office is able to continue to provide a service to the community.
Over the last year, I have met and talked to a number of Licensed Post Offices in my electorate about the challenges they face, including with Australia Post. My South Australian Liberal colleague, Senator Anne Ruston, who keeps an eye on all things in South Australian, has also been engaging with the local post offices. Last week, I sat down with Senator Ruston and post office licensees from across my electorate, including a director of the LPO group, Paul Desteno, and LPO operators such as Steven Jones and Rob Tregoweth, among others, to discuss this matter. It was pleasing to have an open discussion about the number of issues franchisees and managers are seeing and to hear their thoughts on a number of changes that will be implemented as a result of recommendations made by the Senate committee inquiry, chaired by Senator Ruston, which was established to assess postal network performance and what Australia Post could do better to support the local post offices.
The inquiry found many issues were contributing to difficulties in the relationship between Australia Post and the network, including the local post offices. It is pleasing to hear, in line with recommendations of the Senate inquiry, licenced post offices and community postal agencies will receive a $51.4 million boost in payments from Australia Post. Australia Post will also establish a new post office support plan, which will increase the minimum annual payment to almost 1,000 smaller post offices in regional, rural and remote communities and increase the street carded parcel rate, benefitting more than 1,800 LPOs.
In addition, to counteract the decline in letter volumes and the increase in parcel volumes, Australia Post will move to increase the parcel handling payments from 60c to $1.60, which will greatly assist in improving the sustainability of the LPOs.
I acknowledge that there are many challenges ahead and there are still outstanding issues for LPOs, but some progress has been made. I know the LPO managers work hard and are committed to the success of their business. I congratulate all stakeholders on this outcome and thank the representatives from the local post offices in Hindmarsh for attending my recent forum.