Tuesday, 2 February 2021
Ballarat Electorate: Sebastopol Post Office
I rise to speak about an important issue in my electorate. On Saturday, the Sebastopol post office is going to close its door. The community has been running a campaign to try and get that decision reversed, but the clock is ticking. Over recent week, the residents of Sebastopol—or Sebas, as we know it—organised by the incredible Joan Brown, who is in her late 80s, have organised a petition. She, as well as the Rosebank Retirement Village residents, walked the streets over our long summer to try to keep the post office open. Yesterday I delivered that petition to the Petitions Office, and I look forward to it being presented in parliament so that I can again raise this issue. The petition has received hundreds of signatures, and they are highlighting just how important this post office is to this local community and how determined the community is to actually save it. I want to thank everyone in Sebas and beyond who signed the petition and those who have taken it around to their friends and family to get them involved as well, the businesses in Sebas who have written to me and who have signed the petition and also written to the CEO of Australia Post.
Post offices are something that many of us take for granted. They deliver a really important community service not only in terms of people being able to pick up mail and deliver mail and parcels but also, in areas where there are limited facilities, in terms of facilitating banking and the payment of bills. For many older residents, if they are not connected to the internet, it is the only way that they can access these services. That is exactly the role that the local post office plays in Sebas. According to the most recent census, Sebastopol has over 10,000 residents and over 20 per cent of those are over 65—frankly, more than enough of a population to support a post office and the services that are needed for older Australians.
Australia Post have justified the closure by saying that they are moving the licence to the nearby Delacombe Town Centre, a growth area in Ballarat. It's true that Delacombe, too, needs a post office—and there'll be many new residents moving in there that will need a post office—but it shouldn't come at the expense of the residents of Sebas. Over recent weeks, I have written to the acting CEO of Australia Post as well as the Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, calling on them to intervene and save this post office. I have yet to receive a response from either of them. But, even though the post office is due to close on Saturday, that doesn't mean that our voices will be silenced. We're going to continue on this issue until we save this post office.
Australia Post exists to provide a service to the community, and it should do that in all communities, including Sebas. The minister, frankly, should pick up the phone and talk to the CEO of Australia Post. He should ask them to retender the licence for this post office, get a new owner in—or the existing owner, who has indicated he would be willing to keep the service there—and reopen the doors for this incredibly important service in my community. The people in my community won't give up on this. The government should back them.