Monday, 17 June 2013
O'Connor Electorate: Australia Post
Over the past 12 months, my Kalgoorlie and Albany electorate offices have been notified by Australia Post of the planned closure of postal services in small regional towns across my electorate. Time and time again Australia post has cited the inability to find contractors within these small communities willing to take on the contracts. The closure of regional postal services is an enormous inconvenience for the local residents. It takes away their only reliable source of communication and removes an amenity that often acts as a cornerstone of the community, where people meet over their daily business. But, beyond inconvenience, the closure of regional postal services represents strongly an issue that I have raised in this chamber many times before: the neglect and gradual erosion of critical and essential services that underpin regional communities.
Apart from receiving notifications from Australia Post, my Kalgoorlie and Albany electorate offices have also been contacted by members of these communities who are angry—and rightly so. They say the reason contractors are giving up the Australia Post contracts is because the contracts are simply not viable. Sensibly enough, this is the same reason that Australia Post struggles to find new contractors. It just does not make financial sense to run a community postal agency in a small town, let alone contemplate running a licensed post office.
I will give you a recent example of how this is impacting on the people of the regions. In the communities of Jerramungup and Jacup in the south-west of my electorate, the postal contractor gave notice that he did not want to renew his contract to deliver mail. Australia Post could not find anyone who wanted to deliver mail in these communities and the local Progress Association says that it is because nobody can afford to do so under the current remuneration offered by Australia Post. My staff worked to help the community liaise with Australia Post, and eventually a contractor was found, but only with a reduced delivery schedule of once per week. This is despite Australia Post's customer service charter stating that 99.7 per cent of the delivery points are to receive deliveries no less than twice per week. You can imagine how lucky the residents of Jerramungup and Jacup feel to discover that they are now part of the 0.03 per cent of Australia's population who only get their mail once a week! And these are people who live only a few hours from a major centre such as Albany.
We have had similar scenarios in Ongerup, Orana and Karlgarin—just to name a few. I have spoken to members of those communities. They are struggling to pay their bills on time and get the information they need about their personal businesses in a timely fashion. Postal services, in my opinion, should be core government services. The fact that these contracts are not financially viable for anyone in the community to take up is proof that we are doing something wrong in our regional communities.
I had a meeting scheduled with the minister during the last sitting week but unfortunately I had to cancel. I am looking forward to catching up with the minister to reschedule and discuss these issue more pointedly with him.