Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Regulations and Determinations
Australian Postal Corporation (Performance Standards) Amendment (2020 Measures No. 1) Regulations 2020; Disallowance
This is a very important issue. Over the last week or so I've had meetings with the CEO of Australia Post, the IR manager and postal services delivery, plus also the unions. There have been conversations on teleconferences. I've really spent many, many hours dealing with this matter, and I think it's very important because it does affect the workers of Australia Post.
I think there has been a lot of scaremongering going on, especially by the Labor Party and pushed by the unions. Let's put some facts on the table. They said that it's about COVID-19. This is the first time, when we've had this pandemic, that we've actually had to change the way that we do business in this country. A lot of people have lost their jobs, by all means, but in Australia Post they haven't. They've done a fantastic job to pick up the cudgel and actually keep going in doing the work that they did. They have actually taken the mail and deliveries to people. We know that over the period of time in years gone by the delivery of letters has declined considerably. Even the unions admit that. They are also saying that the increased number of parcels to be delivered is what has been the impact on the services provided by the postal workers. For example, in one day alone, they had an increase of 160 per cent in parcels. The reason some of the deliveries aren't happening is that, when COVID-19 happened, a lot of the older workers were actually asked not to come in because of safe-distancing, because of their age and because they were worried about their health. Therefore, there was a backlog of deliveries. It was also because Qantas and Virgin, who flew a lot of the parcels around the country to get the mail delivered, were of course put on hold. It was very hard, so they had to bring in contractors. About 60 per cent of the deliveries of the parcels were handed to contractors because they couldn't handle the increased load of parcels that needed to be delivered.
What is being said now in the scaremongering is they expect the parcel delivery to be cut off, and then it was going to be privatised. There is no intention from the government or the CEO to privatise Australia Post. I have actually spoken to the minister, and this would be a piece of legislation. As long as One Nation has some say in this chamber, or even if we have the balance of power, at no time would I ever support privatising Australia Post. But that is not the point, because neither the CEO of Australia Post nor the government has any intention of privatising Australia Post—any part of it whatsoever. That has been a scaremongering tactic used by the Labor Party. When you actually look at which of the 8,000 jobs they are saying they are going to lose, they are basically those around the cities who deliver the mail. Because of a reduction in the number of letters out there—quite a lot of reduction in letters—they want to do a delivery every second day. It will not get rid of anyone whatsoever on those four postal runs. You still have two who will be doing the deliveries and the other two will be dealing with parcels. So it will not lose people's jobs. Australia Post has people leaving all the time, but they want to transition people, if they were on the bikes, and put them into safe vehicles to deliver their part—a car, in effect. So, get them off the bikes, which are dangerous for the older posties—the over-60s. So, they are looking after their safety. Basically, they want to get them into other areas of parcel delivery, because the bikes cannot carry the parcels. This is the way the Australian consumer is going. They are looking more at parcel delivery than at letters.
Australia Post was poorly run for a long time by a CEO who was paid $5.6 million in his last year. Now, we have a CEO who is intent to pulling that back. They are now making a profit. It is an organisation that has not actually gotten rid of jobs. They haven't done that, yet they have put Australia Post into the black. This is an organisation that they wish to see grow. You can only grow it, with expanding business, by running it properly. A lot of the members in this parliament have never run a business—they have no idea. Unions are not there to run businesses. This is why we have a management committee and a CEO to run the business of Australia Post.
I can understand the workers being very concerned about their futures and their jobs, but there is nothing there to say that they are about to lose their jobs. I have seen the documentation and there has been a lot of misreading of it. They told me things were going to happen but they couldn't prove that. That is why, having met with the unions and the CEO again today, we came to an understanding and agreement that there will be a Senate inquiry into this, which will report by 11 August. They both agreed to that and they both want it. At that Senate inquiry, we senators can then ask them these questions. They have to present the documentation and they have to present the truth. This disallowance motion is not going to help anything, because, unless we move forward with an industry that provides a lot of jobs in Australia and a service for the Australian people, we are not going to be able to service the community.
This is about moving forward. COVID-19 is about having to change our ways and how we do business, so that we can provide a service to the community and also maintain the jobs out there. When you have a growing business, as Australia Post is, you don't get rid of your staff. You done threaten them. They want to keep them on because they are experienced and they are loyal. They have had a great working relationship with their workers and with the unions. Even the unions themselves told me that. A lot of mistruths have been put out there and that has been expanded on by the Labor Party, because you are backed by the unions and you are pushing your own agenda. I am not going to allow that to happen. That is why I am standing here speaking on behalf of the workers. They need assurances that their jobs are going to be there for them. That is what is very important in this debate. Both sides of the House have to realise that it is not all about them and the pushing of their own agenda; it is what is right for the people. It is about working together.
This is only a regulation, which will finish on 1 July 2021 and then be reviewed. By that time we may have a totally different system, but this is about providing a service to people in Australia. Like I said, that is most important. People want those products delivered to them. That's why there has been an increase. Australia Post are trying to look at it realistically, and they are trying to work with the workers.
Another point that was brought to my attention is that Australia Post offered the workers a one per cent bonus. They offered it to the workers; the workers didn't ask for it. Australia Post said, 'You've done a fantastic job. You continued to do your work—you went and knocked on these doors—and we didn't know where we were going with COVID-19.' So they offered a one per cent bonus to the workers of Australia Post—36,000 workers—at a cost of $22 million. They respect their workers. You don't offer that if you intend to get rid of them. Also, there is no intention to pay them out—no redundancies. There will be no redundancies offered to these workers, because they want them to transition to doing the jobs and delivering parcels.
So what has been said is totally misleading, and you are going to scare a lot of people out there who work for Australia Post and who want assurances that their jobs will be there. The community, the Australian people, want to know that their Australia Post is going to be there for them, as well. It will be. I reiterate: there is no intention of privatising Australia Post, there is no intention of offering redundancy and there is no intention of getting rid of the workers. Australia Post want them to transition into other areas so they can provide services to the Australian people. I am hoping the evidence will come out in the inquiry. The truth of the matter will be produced. We should go on from there to ensure that Australia Post survives for a long time to come, in the hands of the government, for the people.