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Thursday, 25 August 1994
Page: 360


Senator IAN MACDONALD (1.13 p.m.) —I want to make only a very short contribution to this debate and it concerns the matter that Senator Alston mentioned last in his address. I just want to congratulate him on the initiative of proposing the amendment to Australia Post's community service obligations regarding roadside deliveries. This government is fairly good in looking after special interest groups all around the nation. It does indicate that special interest groups should get the same treatment as all other Australians and, generally, I would agree with that. When it comes to Australians living in remote and regional Australia, that principle does not seem to apply. This government does not seem to consider the interests of those Australians living in remote and regional Australia.

  As Senator Alston has mentioned, the Australian Postal Corporation Amendment Bill 1994 provides an opportunity for the government to convert its rhetoric into action by requiring Australia Post, through its community service obligations, to provide two roadside delivery services each week. In 1992 the Industry Commission recommended that where that delivery service is currently only once a week it should be increased to at least twice a week. In the 1994 edition of The Rural Book the government has said, with some fanfare, that every effort is made to provide at least two services a week to rural householders, but nothing has been done about it. This bill provides the opportunity to do this, but the government has again abrogated its responsibility. I am very pleased to see that Senator Alston, on behalf of the coalition, is intending to move at the committee stage an amendment to require Australia Post, under its community service obligations, to provide a minimum of two roadside delivery services a week to all householders.

  People living in remote and regional Australia have always had a very difficult life. At the present time, many people are affected by drought and their life is even more difficult. Whilst talking about helping these people, this government just ignores this opportunity to provide basic services like delivery of mail. Getting mail at least twice a week, particularly in these difficult times in rural Australia, is the least this government could do to help. It is a good initiative of the coalition. I urge all parties to support the amendment when it is introduced by Senator Alston.