Postal network must unite to face challenges

Australia Post must take a more inclusive and consultative leadership role with stakeholders and the community in addressing ongoing challenges in a rapidly changing postal environment according to a report tabled in the Senate today.

Senator for South Australia Anne Ruston, chair of the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, said the inquiry into the performance of Australia Post found that in responding to rapid change, Australia Post’s relationship with key stakeholders needed to be improved.

“The committee acknowledges the challenges being faced by Australia Post but the community which relies upon this essential service will be better served in the future by a network which works together rather than against each other,” Senator Ruston said.

“It’s in the community’s interest for Australia Post not to misuse its size in relation to LPOs and other stakeholders, but to take a more inclusive and consultative leadership role to ensure the viability of our postal network.”

Senator Ruston said the evolution of online transactions and communications had seen a major decline in letter volumes but also a rise in parcel deliveries.

“The postal network needs to evolve in this changing environment,” she said. “This is an important challenge for Australia Post, which must also meet its fundamental obligations to the Australian community providing a letter service which is reasonable accessible to everyone on equitable basis, wherever they may live or do business.

“LPOs, community postal agencies and Australia Post franchisees are essential to meeting this obligation and Australia Post needs to be open, honest and fair with these stakeholders.”

The report on the performance of Australia Post makes 18
recommendations, including:

  • that the Government immediately commission an independent review of Australia Post’s community service obligations, as well as the future of mail delivery services, the number of retail outlets required to meet its obligations, the effects any changes would have on stakeholders, and with specific consideration given to rural, regional and remote communities where other service providers have ceased to operate;
  • that the Minister for Communications establish a formal postal network group to engage all stakeholders in developing a strategy to address emerging challenges;
  • that Australia Post be required to submit business mail services price changes to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission;
  • that Australia Post be required to renegotiate LPO agreements upon request of recognised associations; and
  • that Australia Post ensures its employees in the corporate division are aware that poaching and other predatory behaviour with regard to LPOs is unacceptable.

“Other recommendations include Australia Post addressing issues related to post office box payments to licensees, payments relating to parcel storage requirements, and ensuring margins on products sold to licensees are in line with commercial practice,” Senator Ruston said.

“We’ve also recommended the Minister commission an independent audit of the activities of the LPO network to determine the validity of claims made by licensees that payments under the LPO Agreement with Australia Post are not fair or reasonable.

“The postal network is an integral part of our community, and dysfunction within it works against community interests. Stakeholders must resolve their differences quickly – the community won’t tolerate ongoing relationship issues in the postal network regardless of the challenges it faces. It’s time everyone started to work

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