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Thursday, 20 September 2012
Page: 11508


Mr BRUCE SCOTT (MaranoaSecond Deputy Speaker) (11:23): I rise to speak on a simple mathematical equation which, depending if you believe in unlucky 13, is a shock to logic. Postcode 4306—four, plus three, plus zero, plus six—equals 13 and is one of the most unlucky postcodes in this state. I will explain why in my adjournment speech. For inexplicable reasons the Blackbutt-Benarkin region was allocated the same postcode as the Ipswich-Amberley region, some two hours distance and a totally unrelated region. They are two totally distinct regions separated by distance. They do not share a boundary. There are 57 localities that share the same postcode as Ipswich. Australia Post maintains that postcodes are for mail-sorting purposes only and it has no control over how postcode data is applied by other agencies, including other government agencies. Due to the fact that Ipswich-Amberley 4306 is described as a metropolitan region and Blackbutt-Benarkin region is rural, the erroneous allocation has resulted in a diverse and significant range of detrimental outcomes for the Blackbutt-Benarkin region in the South Burnett in my electorate.

For instance, Centrelink considers Blackbutt to be a suburb of Ipswich and requires residents to travel 130 kilometres to transact Centrelink business in lieu of a 60-kilometre trip to Kingaroy. Farming enterprises in the Blackbutt-Benarkin region employ backpackers that are a very important part of their seasonal workforce. If these enterprises want backpackers to extend their 12-month visas, they are unable to effect this because the region is considered metropolitan instead of rural, due to its having the duplicated Ipswich postcode.

Another example is insurance for home contents and motor vehicle insurance, which are based on postcodes. This greatly disadvantages Blackbutt and Benarkin residents. Premium quote requests for neighbouring towns using the same property conditions attract quotes of at least $150 less each time. The Blackbutt-Benarkin region does not have the perceived threat risk on many levels associated with the Ipswich region—and that is not to take away from Ipswich as a community.

In efforts to obtain a better deal for the Blackbutt-Benarkin residents and after consulting Australia Post, I wrote to the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Insurance Council of Australia, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, all of whom advised of their powerlessness to influence insurance companies or to effect change. Blackbutt was reported to have the highest drug related problem in the greater area. Again, this was based on postcodes and with Blackbutt having the same postcode as Ipswich the Blackbutt region was unfairly maligned.

There have been a number of complaints from people across the electorate of Maranoa about issues relating to shared postcodes. The Bedourie community in the Diamantina shire in the far west of my electorate shares a postcode with Boulia which is some 200 kilometres away. I was preparing my annual newsletter drop and was told by Australia Post that no-one lives in Bedourie as there are no service points there—wrong again, although they do not have a postcode. I can tell you there are people living in Bedourie. We have the same situation in Yaraka which is some five hours drive from Rockhampton and yet they share a postcode. I could go on.

The shared postcodes are also impacting on the length of time taken to receive mail. Constituents in the Blackbutt-Benarkin in the east of Maranoa share a postcode with Ipswich. The shared postcode is having a significant effect on the insurance premiums for those living in the Blackbutt area. Some of those postcodes were allocated and gazetted localities some 30 years ago. Much has changed since then, and many communities are seeing population growth.

My proposed fix is to change the Blackbutt postcode from 4306 to 4616, because 4616 is unallocated. It is a logical choice, because the adjoining postcodes are Nanango 4615 and Yarraman 4614. I believe there needs to be a postcode review to allocate unique postcodes to towns with a licensed Australia Post office or postal agency which currently share a postcode with a geographically separate region. I have been active in raising awareness of this issue for two years. Not supporting a change of postcode for the Blackbutt-Benarkin area from 4306 to 4616 is abetting many federal, state and other department agencies to disadvantage citizens of this region. (Time expired)