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Monday, 22 April 1985
Page: 1344

Senator REID(10.43) —I wish to raise the problem experienced recently by a young Australian Capital Territory constituent. I do not wish to mention his name because I do not think it is in his best interest. He applied to the Royal Australian Navy for an apprenticeship either as a motor mechanic or as a fitter and turner. Let me assure the Senate that in this story I intend to recount the Navy has been totally helpful at all times and the criticism I have relates to what may or may not be going on inside Australia Post. It does not involve the Navy.

This young man received a letter on 15 April advising him that he should attend that day in Sydney for an interview in relation to his application for the apprenticeship. The envelope was postmarked 4 April. In fact, it took nine days to be delivered in Canberra. He immediately contacted the Navy and he was offered an appointment in June. That would mean that he would miss the intake he was seeking to get into and would place him, if he got in at all, in the January intake.

The Navy offered to arrange an appointment for him in Melbourne which, realistically, would have been at his mother's expense. It then looked further into the matter and is attempting to arrange an interview out of sequence, in a sense, in Sydney. I repeat that there is not the slightest doubt that the Navy has done everything it possibly could to rectify the situation which arose as a result of a letter taking nine days to get from Sydney to Canberra.

This is not the only incident I have heard of recently of mail taking a long time to be delivered, especially from Sydney to Canberra. I do not know whether the problem lies in Sydney or in Canberra, but I am sure that the Senate will recall hearing stories last year when mail was taking a great deal of time to be delivered and caused great problems to business, especially in Canberra. Since then, of course, the cost of posting a letter has gone up by another 3c. Hopefully, this young man will get his interview and get into the Navy. If he does not, he may always wonder whether it was the mess up over the interview that caused him to miss out. I suggest that there is enough stress and trauma for a young man attempting to get an apprenticeship these days without the stress of finding that a letter turned up on the day that he was supposed to be in Sydney for the interview.

It would be a pity if we had to tell the Navy that when it sends out a letter for an interview, three days later it should send a telegram saying: If you have not received a letter, you had better ring up and find out what was in the letter you did not receive'. That is just too absurd when one thinks of the cost of sending letters and telegrams. I think we are entitled to expect that a letter should get to Canberra from Sydney and be delivered in less that nine days. I hope that the Minister for Communications (Mr Duffy) will look into the present situation and the Australia Post's involvement in this incident regarding the delivery of mail between Sydney and Canberra so that this type of incident does not happen again. I repeat: It is not the Navy which has in any way been at fault. It needs to be commended for the effort that it has put into trying to solve the problems that have arisen as a result of the late delivery of its letter. This is not just a one-off late delivery.