Thursday, 1 August 2019
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2019-2020, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2019-2020, Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2019-2020; Second Reading
I rise to speak in support of the appropriations legislation. Certainly since 1975 Labor has taken a principled position in terms of supply, that governments are entitled to supply and to function effectively with a distribution of revenue, irrespective of whether we support specific policies or programs in that budget.
I want to take the opportunity to talk about a number of local issues germane to my electorate. They principally concern Australia Post. The first one is the 4306 postcode issue. The postcode 4306 is a series of numbers in my electorate which has caused consternation to local residents. There have been two postcode regions, historically, that 4306 has covered: one, the Blackbutt region and the Upper Somerset region; and then, separated into the region known as the Karana Downs region in western Brisbane, around rural Ipswich, near the RAAF base at Amberley, down towards the new estates in the Deebing Heights area and Ripley Valley.
The problem here is that metropolitan areas are being classified as regional. The former member for Ryan and I worked in a bipartisan way to make sure that Australia Post treated seriously the concerns of residents, particularly in Chuwar, Mount Crosby, Karana Downs and the rural parts of my electorate. Fortunately, back in February 2018 Australia Post saw some sense and changed the 4306 postcode for the upper region to make it, from memory, 4314 for the Blackbutt region. That helped people who lived around Linville and Moore and the country towns in the Upper Somerset region in my electorate.
The Karana Downs region has been redistributed into my seat by the Australian Electoral Commission, and I will continue to advocate for people there. The implications of not changing the 4306 postcode for those people—residents as well as business owners—is delays in mail delivery and problems in terms of delivery cost, the cost of insurance, cost to business, cost to residents. Those areas were cut off in the 2011 floods and the problems caused to local residents there were very, very severe. They were isolated. Some of those people were not flooded themselves but had to pay much higher insurance premiums.
I'm calling on Australia Post to do the right thing. They promised me in correspondence and discussions I've had recently with Christine Holgate, the CEO of Australia Post, that they would look at this issue again after the parcel distribution centre covering all of Queensland was opened in Redbank, just outside my electorate in the eastern suburbs of Ipswich. I applaud Australia Post for creating that distribution centre, which employs a couple of hundred people across my electorate and the electorate of Oxley. But now is the time to fix the 4306 issue and assign a new postcode for people living in that area so that they will not experience the extra business costs, the insurance problems and the express-delivery issues they have each and every day. I want to make sure that the people who live in that area are treated in a fair and just way, and I'm calling on Christine Holgate and the whole Australia Post management to do the right thing by the people of the Karana Downs region.
Before question time yesterday, I received a number of emails from people and contacts in relation to an issue which had not been brought to my attention by Australia Post and where there was no consultation. Much to my shock and horror, I received, just before question time, an email from David Jancik, the senior manager of government relations at Australia Post, to advise me, subsequent to the advice given to me by local residents and business owners in Ipswich, that in fact Australia Post was closing the Ipswich post office located at shop 5, 114 Brisbane Street, Ipswich, permanently from 5 pm on 13 September 2019. The message then said that local residents could get redirected to other post offices around the place and get their mail redirected. This is an unnecessary, outrageous and insulting decision by Australia Post in one of the fastest-growing cities in Australia. As Amanda Lee Harris said on my Facebook page, 'We must be the only city in Australia who will not have a post office in its CBD.'
I know about the problems that, as a result of the decisions made by the now sacked Ipswich City Council, the CBD has been enduring for years. There have been a lot of vacancies in the CBD in Ipswich, as some businesses have left and others have struggled. I know there are real concerns about the CBD redevelopment. I am confident that the interim administrator, Greg Chemello, is on the right track and that, when we have a new council elected in March 2020, the CBD redevelopment of Ipswich will finally be completed and businesses will be back in the CBD. Patronage will improve and, of course, residents will move—as is the case all around the world, not just in Queensland—into high-rise and other types of inner-city dwellings. Residents will move into the CBD and will like that lifestyle, as we've seen in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Many people have enjoyed it in the Ipswich region as well.
I want to quote some local residents, and I want to remind Australia Post of their obligations to the people of Ipswich. We are the sixth biggest city in Queensland. We are one of the fastest-growing regions in the whole of Australia. This is what a number of people have said. The Ipswich Turf Club have the address PO Box 1, Ipswich 4305. As was described to me by Janet Tansey, that has been their postcode and PO box 'forever'. She advises that redirections will only take place for six months. She asked if Australia Post, following redevelopment of the mall, will reopen a post office, and she asks what government businesses in town will do—private delivery or collection?
ICYS, Ipswich Community Youth Service, says:
Assuming this means we will need a new PO Box number, this will be a huge cost on businesses and not-for-profit organisations like us who have had this post office for many many years! Changing letterhead, business cards, branding, correspondence with all our government funding bodies and the hundreds of stakeholders we do business with will be a HUGE toll on us and honestly far too costly and time-consuming for us to comprehend right now.
Jodie Kochman, who is a disability advocate in Ipswich—and I really commend Jodie for the great work she's done over the years—says:
It is the most frustrating thing as a post box holder. I am now faced with finding an accessible alternative. Including height of box and accessibility of the post office itself.
Not only that but the impact will be felt as I will not have any other reason to visit other small businesses in the area, and I am not the only one who checks their mail and grabs a quick coffee or stops in to grab lunch etc.
Mike McInnes, a well-known businessman in Ipswich who recently met me in relation to a community organisation that I think Mike is the president of and that does a lot of good work for homeless people in the Ipswich area, said:
As a small business owner and a customer of Australia Post the decision to close just makes it even harder to do business in Ipswich CBD. This decision needs to be reversed—
I say amen to that—
or an alternative service needs to be provided.
Arthur Needham, who, by the way, lives in the Karana Downs region and is very well known in cricketing circles in the Ipswich and Brisbane area, said:
My dear Shayne, there seems to be a serious attempt at the destruction of the core of Ipswich despite the fact that it's going through a major and long overdue total regeneration.
Karen Ladlay, who's the Tower Central Cafe owner and whose business is directly opposite the post office said:
… it was sad news.
'That post office has been in Ipswich as long as I can remember and I've been there 40 years.'
I've lived in Ipswich all my life, and I can't remember a time when it hasn't been there.
This is simply unacceptable behaviour. It's an appalling decision by Australia Post. I call on Australia Post to listen to the voices of business owners and the Ipswich community and reverse this decision immediately. The lack of consultation in relation to the closure is a disgrace. Australia Post should listen to people in relation to this issue. It simply is not good enough for Australia Post to say that it's going to look at some sort of community postal agency and that it's going to keep us in the loop on this issue. I applaud the deputy editor of The Queensland Times, Andrew Korner, for taking up this issue. I've spoken to Andrew a number of times about this. I applaud The Queensland Times for its advocacy and for standing up for our local community. It's about time that the minister intervened in this issue. It's about time that Ms Holgate did the right thing. I have enormous respect for her through my previous work when I was Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing and she was at Blackmores. She is a fair person. She is a good CEO. I'm asking her to intervene and do the right thing by the people of Ipswich.
I have to say that this is a very disappointing outcome. The impact on Ipswich, which has gone through such a hard time, with court cases involving former mayors being charged with and then convicted of serious criminal offences and with the dismissal of our council—morale in Ipswich is bad enough without this happening. I think all of us in our community need to work together to turn Ipswich around.
We don't need to be punched in the head by a decision like this. The Ipswich chamber of commerce and the Springfield chamber of commerce do a terrific job. I'm proud to be a member of both chambers. But to look at what's happened here and think that it is the right decision because a lease may be up or patronage may be down is not understanding that we have about 230,000 people living in Ipswich; we have inside our borders the satellite city of Springfield with about 45,000, which will grow to about 110,000 in the next decade and a half; and in about 20 years time the Ripley Valley, which is inside the city of Ipswich, will have 120,000 people. And Ipswich itself is growing. We are projected to have about 460,000 living in Ipswich in the next 20 years. We'll see changes. We've seen Rheinmetall constructed in the eastern suburbs, we've got the RAAF base at Amberley—the biggest military base in the country—and yet we have being made decisions like this that are a disgrace, that neglect Ipswich, that insult Ipswich, that treat us like second-class citizens. We're part of the city of Ipswich—I'm proud to say I was born and raised in Ipswich—and we're proud of being part of South-East Queensland. But we should not be left behind and treated worse than any other area in South-East Queensland or across the country.
I know the chamber of commerce will get behind this campaign to reverse the decision. I'm calling on it to do the right thing. I know that the state member for Ipswich, Jennifer Howard, has been very vocal about this. She's calling on Australia Post to reverse its decision. I'm calling on other politicians likely to stand up and on business owners to stand up. And I'm calling on this government—this government who seems so often to be in office but not in power—to do the right thing by my local residents and stand up for the people of Ipswich. This closure is a disappointing decision. This closure is not pro-business. This closure is nothing but a punch to the guts of Ipswich. This decision is not in the best interests of our city. This is not a decision that looks after our community, and the government should intervene. If Australia Post won't do the right thing, the government should stand up for the people of Ipswich. I'm calling on the minister to intervene and save the Ipswich post office.