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Monday, 23 March 1987
Page: 1184

(Question No. 1584)

Senator Vigor asked the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, upon notice, on 10 December 1986:

(1) Who has responsibility for the destruction of stamps, within Australia Post.

(2) How are stamps destroyed and where does this destruction occur.

(3) What reconciliations must be carried out before the destruction of any stamps can be authorised.

(4) What steps are taken to ensure that all stamps returned to the State distributors' offices for destruction are in fact destroyed.

Senator Walsh —The Minister for Communications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question, based on information provided by the Australian Postal Commission:

(1) Prescribed procedures vest responsibility for destruction of postage stamps (after their receipt by Australia Post) with Stamp Destruction Boards, which are comprised of Australia Post staff.

These procedures also specify that destruction of waste and sheets damaged during the stamp printing process is the responsibility of Australia Post staff. This material is generally destroyed by guillotine on the printer's premises. If large quantities are involved, destruction is carried out at a commercial pulping plant under security conditions.

(2) Destruction in States other than New South Wales is generally by way of a shredding process performed on Australia Post premises. In New South Wales, and in other States when volumes are substantial, destruction is carried out at commercial pulping plants under security conditions.

(3) A computer system is used to control stocks of postage stamps held by distributing areas, post offices and post office agencies. Stock movements are recorded on the system to enable a balance to be determined. Physical stock-takes are performed monthly to verify the balances held.

Stamps returned from post offices and post office agencies for destruction are supported by a statement showing the value returned by denomination. The stamps are checked against the statement before being destroyed. Details of the stamps destroyed are entered into the computer system to update stock balances.

(4) Prescribed procedures specify that the presence of two Australia Post officers during the destruction process is mandatory. Where in-house destruction facilities are utilised, two officers open articles containing stock for destruction, check the contents and destroy the stock immediately by shredding.

Where in-house destruction is not practicable, stock is required to be stored in a secure location on Australia Post premises pending the accumulation of a sufficient quantity to transport to the destruction facility. Entry to the storage location is restricted and requires the presence of two officers. When a sufficient quantity is on hand, the stock is transferred to the destruction facility under armed escort and subsequently destroyed. Australia Post officers are required to observe the destruction process to ensure that the stamps are completely destroyed.