House debates

Monday, 29 May 2017


Communications Fees

11:50 am

Photo of Tim WilsonTim Wilson (Goldstein, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

It is pretty obvious why that is the case. It is because it is cheap, with very little cost, quick—meaning responsive—efficient. As a consequence they do prefer that. But if you require things by traditional means, by post, there is a cost. There is a thing called Australia Post. If you go to the post office—I am not sure if any of the members opposite have done that recently—there is a cost of sending a piece of mail. You also have things like the paper that you print on. There is printer ink and time, energy and resources in folding and processing. All of that costs money. In fact, with the price of a standard letter being about $1 and the previous speaker talking about the cost of sending something being about $1.30 once you factor in all the other costs, which is roughly what agencies use—yes, there is a cost.

Ms Keay interjecting

To those opposite who are interrupting—I have not finished. Then you go on to clause 2 of the motion:

… calls on the Government to bring forward legislation that will give consumers the right to receive communications from companies by post for no extra fee.

What you are saying is that they should not be charged. I understand why you might make that argument, though it does not actually reflect the cost, but it just means the cost has to be reflected elsewhere. Because there is a cost. I just went through the very logical process by which a cost is calculated. That is not to say that I prefer that or disagree with that; it is just a statement of fact. It is a statement of reality about the world that we live in. Online is effectively free, minus the cost of staff time, which is sometimes required for the automation of the systems. But once you fractionalise that across thousands, if not millions, of transactions, the cost per distribution is minimal. Something in the post is not cost free or anywhere near the equivalent. Yes, you can negotiate for a reduction of price in bulk-purchased mailing rates, but there will be a cost, which will be fractionalised across various bits of mail to include staff and labour time and everything else.

So we need to recognise that there is a reality that does not accord with the motion that has been put before us—and that is (1)(e) and (2) of the motion. The reality is that we know there is already a method of regulation on bank fees and charges and the costs in telecommunications companies. Members opposite may not like to acknowledge that, but it exists. It is called the marketplace. People choose to go between different banks. To put my own perspective, I have multiple accounts with different banks. Before anybody gets hysterical about it, they are all disclosed on the register. As a consequence, you make decisions based on messaging and signals. Only a few moments ago, I got this annoying phone call from an energy company that wants me to shift over. One of their key messagings is that there are reductions in the penalty and rates associated with switching over. The market regulates. This motion is a waste of time.


No comments