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Wednesday, 24 June 1998
Page: 5291

Mr ANDREN —My question is also to the Prime Minister. Mr Prime Minister, I ask on behalf of Joy Davidson, licensed post office operator at Eugowra, do your assurances that no post offices or mail centres will close also extend to postal agencies and licensed post offices in rural areas? And does it mean that any deregulation of delivery and postal charges will not harm such LPOs or agencies?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for Calare for that question. I share his interest in the constituent on whose behalf he has asked that question. I want to repeat the assurances that I gave at the weekend and again in the House earlier this week. On the score of retail outlets—and Mrs Davidson is the operator of one of those retail outlets—between 1989-90 and 1995-96 the total number of postal retail outlets fell by 277. I am very happy to say that in the 2¼ years that the coalition has been in government that trend has been reversed and there has been in that period an increase in total of 151 retail outlets. I say this very respectfully to the member: if you operate on the basis that action speaks louder than rhetoric, she has a lot more assurance by supporting the coalition than any alternative.