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Thursday, 1 March 2012
Page: 1456


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (18:08): I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

This report shows the operations of Australia Post in the last financial year. It is quite an interesting document. Australia Post clearly says that its letter service does not return a profit—it is not the big part of its activities these days. It makes its money, and it does fairly well as I understand it, out of parcel post deliveries.

In looking through this report, I am reminded of the estimates hearing when we inquired of Senator Conroy about a new appointment to Australia Post. We found that the new appointment to Australia Post's board was a relative of Mr Ahmed Fahour, who is the managing director. But that is okay. What we found to be more interesting was that both Mr Fahour and Senator Conroy are very involved in volleyball in Victoria. Lo and behold, who should the new appointee to the board be but another member of the volleyball club in Victoria. It seems that if you want to get on the Australia Post board you have to be in a sporting organisation in Victoria with Senator Conroy. And good on Senator Conroy for promoting women's sport. But that is just a little bit interesting.

I also noticed, in looking at the board and executive, that one of the board members is Mr Peter Carne. Those of us with any association with the law in Queensland would remember a very famous legal firm in Queensland named Goss Downey Carne. Goss, you might recall, is the surname of a former Labor Premier of Queensland, Wayne Goss. In fact, Mr Wayne Goss was a partner in the firm of Goss Downey Carne. Mr Carne is a self-confessed advocate for the Labor Party. One might also say he is 'one of the mates'. He has been, I concede, President of the Law Society. It is interesting to watch Senator Conroy's method of appointing people to the board of Australia Post. It reminds me of his method of appointing people to the NBN Co.

Senator Williams: Mr Squiggly!

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Not Mr Squiggly—that was sort of legitimate—but Mr Mike Kaiser, who for many years was an apparatchik in Queensland. I think he was in the Queensland parliament for a little while—until he was forced to resign through unsavoury allegations against him. Lo and behold, he turns up as a very well remunerated—above $400,000 per annum—government relations man in NBN Co. How did he get there? We found out at estimates that Senator Conroy just suggested to Mr Quigley that, if he happened to be looking for a communications expert, Mike Kaiser might be a good person to appoint. Lo and behold, Mr Quigley appointed Mike Kaiser. There were no advertisements, no calling for applications, no competitive process for getting the job—but Mr Kaiser ended up there.

I have diverted myself from the Australia Post report. I really wanted to talk about a couple of things of importance to me—some of the things I raised at estimates. One of those things is the enormous loss of packages that happens within the city of Townsville, where my office is, in North Queensland. A bloke who runs a mail-order operation has an enormous loss of packages that are sent from one suburb in Townsville to another. He has recorded a litany of delays of over two weeks to get from one side of Townsville to the other. I know Townsville is growing—it is a great city—but it should not take two weeks to get from one side of town to the other.

I also want to mention the disgraceful situation in Rockhampton, where Australia Post is causing untold difficulties to residents in Elphinstone Street because of the manner of its operation. I repeat that, if Australia Post were not a government business enterprise, the council would have shut down that facility long ago. I call on Minister Conroy to do something about that. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.