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Monday, 18 August 2003
Page: 18806


Mr Brendan O'Connor asked the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, upon notice, on 5 June 2003:

(1) Is the Minister aware of complaints made to Australia Post regarding the consistent overcharging of letters and parcels, particularly those containing compact discs.

(2) In the last twelve months, has Australia Post revised the method used to assess postal charges for compact discs leading to a significant increase in their cost of mailing.

(3) What processes does Australia Post use to ensure that all offices and franchises price correctly.


Mr McGauran (Minister for Science) —The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, based on advice received from Australia Post, has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) Australia Post advises that a customer complained in August 2002 about inconsistent postage assessment on items containing compact discs.

(2) No. To assist staff and customers with postage assessment, Australia Post included longstanding definitions of letters and parcels in its Postal Charges Booklet, Letters and Parcels Guides.

During the course of its investigation into the complaint referred to in part (1), Australia Post found that, when packed, its DM Disk Mailer box (which is specifically designed for compact discs) does not fit the dimensions of a large letter. It is generally thicker than the 20mm cut-over point between a large letter and small parcel and should, therefore, be assessed as a small parcel. It issued a Staff Information Bulletin to all retail outlets in August 2002 clarifying the situation.

(3) All retail staff receive comprehensive on-the-job training in regard to postage assessment and rely on the longstanding definitions of letters and parcels that appear in the Postal Charges Booklet, Letters and Parcels Guides.

Australia Post staff have other items at their disposal to assist with postage assessment, including Australia Post's Electronic Point of Sale technology (which guides the user through the transaction and helps them select the appropriate product category), a Letter Gauge and officially approved scales and tape measures.