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Monday, 2 December 2013
Page: 1335

Mr WILLIAMS (Hindmarsh) (12:58): I am pleased to be able to address the matter of public importance today and show my support for the licensed post offices in my electorate and Australia more widely. Australia Post has a wonderful history in our country but, at a time when post offices around the globe are experiencing great hardship and our own post offices are losing large amounts of money on the letter component of their business, it is obvious to all that Australia Post is going to face challenges in the coming years.

I have met with some of the 22 local licensed post officers to try to help me understand the concerns of local businesses and have received a briefing from the Chief Executive Officer of Australia Post, arranged by the new Minister for Communications. I am happy to say that everyone I have met from Australia Post is looking for ways in which they can save money and work more productively. But this government, which is supportive of all businesses, is considering ways to ensure that they contribute in a self-sustainable way.

As a government business enterprise, Australia Post has a responsibility to manage its business in a commercially and socially sound way. I am told that Australia Post has not made any decisions about the possible changes and the impact any changes to processing and delivery of letters would have on staff. Australia Post is continuing to consult with staff and community stakeholders about how the possible changes may affect employees, local businesses and the community. While stakeholder engagement is always difficult when you have many thousands of agencies and innumerable other interested parties, I strongly encourage Australia Post to work with all stakeholders to take everyone with them on the journey, to ensure they are able to continue to be a great institution and not a drain on the public purse.

Australia Post has been working on ways to further develop its business. We would all have noticed the changes in our local post office. There is now a large retail focus and many more packages. This explosion in the number of packages being handled by Australia Post is largely due to the application programming interface, or API, that Australia Post has developed. Australia Post's great API is well regarded in the web industry as being the easiest to use and integrate, making it the first point of call for most of the new online shops that are being developed every day. We should not underestimate the power of online shopping services in this area, and this is where Australia Post and the post offices have a great deal of potential to grow and further develop by working together for a more sustainable future.

It is very interesting to note that Australia Post has been going through a process of regeneration for a number of years, looking to see how they can work most effectively in this online focused world. While the minister has the discretion to give written directions to Australia Post, this has never been used in our history. But now, less than three months out of office, the member for Ballarat, the shadow minister for health, has come in here demanding that the minister take the necessary actions which she and her colleagues failed to do for six years. The question has to be asked: what were they really doing for six years? Did they not receive the letter that said Australia Post needs some regeneration? Australia Post has a lot of challenges, and we in the coalition will work with Australia Post to try and deliver the best we can.