Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 157


Senator Wortley asked the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, upon notice, on 28 October 2008:

(1)   Has Australia Post ever been subject to legal action relating to an allegation of unfair contracts in regard to a mail contract; if so, what was the outcome.

(2)   In the answer provided to question no.25/26 taken on notice by Australia Post during the 2008-09 Budget estimates hearing of the Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee, Australia Post said that in 2007 it accepted 15 tenders where the tenderer’s labour rate was below the federal minimum wage: Can Australia Post expand on the answer it gave to the question, giving reasons of how it would be satisfied accepting a tender where the labour rate was below the federal minimum wage.

(3)   Has the number of Australia Post staff working solely on Licensed Post Office (LPO) matters decreased or increased in the past 5 years.

(4)   Can details be provided, year-by-year, of the Australia Post staff which are dedicated to managing the LPO network.

(5)   Of the staff dedicated to managing LPOs: (a) how many have ever owned an LPO; and (b) do any have experience owning a small business.

(6)   Has Australia Post ever considered hiring people with experience as licensees to be involved in the management of the LPO network.

(7)   How many Australia Post staff are dedicated to managing mail contractors at a national and state level.

(8)   What role do local Delivery Centre managers have in managing mail contractors.

(9)   As a Government Business Enterprise, Australia Post has a strong obligation to behave ethically while operating in a commercial environment: (a) can Australia Post guarantee that child labour was not used to produce any of the products stocked in its corporate post offices; and (b) what procedures does Australia Post have in place to ensure that the products it sells are produced ethically.


Senator Conroy (Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy) —The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:

(1)   There have been two disputes relating to delivery contracts that have resulted in legal action. One occurred in 2001 and was settled prior to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) hearing and the other is due to be heard in the AIRC in May 2009.

(2)   Circumstances of individual contractors vary greatly and may influence the tender price that a tenderer chooses to submit. These circumstances need to be considered when assessing the viability of the tender. Tenderers are advised within the tender documentation provided to them to seek independent financial and legal advice prior to submitting a tender. References are also made to various Federal and State awards to assist the contractor determine their tender price. Consideration is given to the total price of the tender as well as the various cost components that make up the tender. Tenderers control the allocation of costs according to their circumstances and/or financial advice. On occasions, some contractors only submit an overall price to perform the service and do not disclose their detailed cost components. Tenderers may have other income sources such as operating as a Licensed Post Office, receiving a pension or may provide similar services such as a bus or a freight service that may directly affect how they price their tender for the service. Australia Post as part of the tender assessment process will raise with the tenderer any areas of concern regarding the contractors pricing prior to accepting their offer. The final tender price and allocation of costs remains a decision for the tenderer. Australia Post may choose to award the tender where it is satisfied that the tenderer will be able to provide the service for the price tendered. (3/4) Dedicated LPO management positions were first introduced in all states in 2006. Prior to that, staff managed the LPO network in conjunction with other duties. Australia Post’s computerised personnel management system cannot provide historical reporting on tasks performed by specific positions. Therefore, it is not possible to provide the year-by-year details requested. However, the number of full time equivalent staff dedicated to the management of the LPO network has remained constant since 2006, with current numbers (November 2008) shown in the following table:

Area

Number of staff

Headquarters

3.5

New South Wales

28.5

Victoria

27.5

Queensland

20

South Australia/Northern Territory

13

Western Australia

12

Tasmania

7.5

TOTAL

112

(3/4)   Dedicated LPO management positions were first introduced in all states in 2006. Prior to that, staff managed the LPO network in conjunction with other duties. Australia Post’s computerised personnel management system cannot provide historical reporting on tasks performed by specific positions. Therefore, it is not possible to provide the year-by-year details requested. However, the number of full time equivalent staff dedicated to the management of the LPO network has remained constant since 2006, with current numbers (November 2008) shown in the following table:

Area

Number of staff

Headquarters

3.5

New South Wales

28.5

Victoria

27.5

Queensland

20

South Australia/Northern Territory

13

Western Australia

12

Tasmania

7.5

TOTAL

112

(5)   Of the staff dedicated to the management of the LPO network, four have operated LPOs and three have experience in owning small businesses.

(6)   Yes. Experience as a Licensee is regarded as beneficial in managing the LPO network. However, it is only one of a number of aspects that are considered when determining a person’s ability and expertise to manage in this area.

(7)   The following table shows the number of full time equivalent staff currently (November 2008) dedicated to managing mail contractors at a national and state level:

Area

Number of Staff

Headquarters

5.6

New South Wales

13.6

Victoria

8

Queensland

12.6

South Australia/Northern Territory

5.25

Western Australia

9.6

Tasmania

1

TOTAL

55.65

(8)   Contractors work from Australia Post premises, normally a Delivery Centre or Post Office. Management staff at these premises are responsible for the contractors on a day-to-day basis, including handing over mail for delivery, monitoring compliance with safety plans, and measuring service performance against agreed standards and contract requirements.

(9)   While Australia Post cannot provide any absolute guarantees, its supplier agreements (Commercial Trading Agreements) are designed to ensure that child labour and other prohibited practices are not utilised in the production process of products stocked in corporate post offices.