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Notice given 26 June 2012

*1926  Senator Abetz: To ask the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy—With reference to Australia Post franchises:

(1) Does Australia Post supply a separate management stream for franchises, or are they now grouped under the Licensed Post Office (LPO) management stream.

(2) Was a separate management structure promised by Australia Post.

(3) Did Australia Post: (a) approach financiers with a business model; and (b) receive ‘Accredited Franchise Status’ from major banks; if so, which banks, and what process did Australia Post go through to receive that accreditation.

(4) Is Australia Post required to go through an annual review with the banks in question to continue that accreditation.

(5) Has the corporation sought to continue these accreditations.

(6) Since the signing of the current Fair Work Agreement, have further franchises opened; if so, can a detailed explanation be provided about what agreements, either formal or informal, exist with employee unions in regard to franchising.

(7) Has Australia Post provided information to franchisees regarding agreement negotiations and their outcomes.

(8) Can a copy of the current Retail Conversion Policy with employee unions be provided, as well as an explanation of how this policy affects the franchised PostShop model.

(9) When did the previous formal agreement between Australia Post and employee unions, in place prior to the current Fair Work Agreement, expire.

 

 (10) Were there any clauses in the previous agreement that related specifically to the franchised PostShop model.

(11) Did Australia Post provide information to prospective franchisees through the interview and application process that it had formal agreements in place with its employee unions, and that these may prevent expansion of the franchise network to 150 outlets.

(12) Have Australia Post managers tasked with the sale of these franchises received any performance bonuses or other benefits on the sale of a franchise.

(13) Under the Future Ready program, are Australia Post managers in receipt of any performance bonuses in relation to cost savings achieved.

(14) Given that there appears to be increasing doubt among franchisees over the intentions of Australia Post for the end of the franchise agreements, can an elaboration be provided on the answer supplied by Ms Corbett at the 2011-12 Senate additional estimates hearing of the Environment and Communications Committee.

(15) Will franchisees be offered a renewal of their agreements.

*1927  Senator Abetz: To ask the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy—With reference to the Australia Post franchise in Coorparoo, Brisbane:

(1) Did the Coorparoo franchise close in 2011; if so: (a) what were the circumstances surrounding the closure; (b) did Australia Post relocate and re-establish the franchised PostShop; and (c) if there is a new, relocated site, how far is it from the original location.

(2) During two meetings, did the franchise management team in Queensland advise that Australia Post had decided to close the franchise due to the unavailability of suitable premises.

(3) At the second meeting, did the state franchise coordinator say that the decision to close the post office had been made by management in Melbourne, and that they had determined that the franchise model was no longer appropriate for the Coorparoo area.

(4) Can copies of any minutes or correspondence relating to the above meetings be provided.

(5) Was the franchisee advised that Australia Post had determined to operate a fixed term Licensed Post Office in the area.

(6) Can a detailed explanation be provided of what transpired in relation to postal services in Coorparoo.

(7) In what business format is the Coorparoo post office currently operating and, if this differs from the previous format, what was the reasoning behind the change.

 (8) Was any definitive analysis undertaken by Australia Post of issues such as pedestrian traffic flow, accessibility, and any other pertinent matters relevant to the site, in relation to the current Coorparoo site prior to the relocation; if so, can the analysis be provided.

 (9) Was this information shared with the franchisee; if so, when and what specific information was provided.

(10) Did Australia Post consult with the Coorparoo community in regard to this closure and subsequent relocation; if so, with whom and when did the consultation occur.

 

 (11) Did the franchisee make numerous requests for documentation, which may have assisted them in making a decision about relocations, and was Australia Post in a position to supply such documents.

(12) Does Australia Post usually expect agreements to be entered into without availing the other party or parties an opportunity to view the contract.

(13) On what basis did Australia Post include in the Termination Notice for the particular franchise a clause whereby acceptance of the exit payment indemnified Australia Post from any further legal action, which may be open to this franchisee; and is this: (a) usual practice; and (b) mandated across all franchises in similar positions.

(14) Can a copy of the Termination Notice be provided.

(15) With reference to the document titled ‘A PostShop Franchise: Your Key to Business Success’, in particular p. 14 under the heading Franchise Advisory Council, which sets out the intentions of Australia Post, and given that this was supplied to the Coorparoo franchisee in the early stages of their expressions of interest in this model: (a) in what forum was the Coorparoo franchisee able to raise issues surrounding the closure of the Coorparoo franchise; and (b) given that the establishment of such a Council was indicated during the sale process, why has the Council not been established.

(16) Have any explanations and apologies been provided to the individuals who may have been induced, in part or in whole, to enter the franchise agreement based on this representation.

(17) Did any senior managers of Australia Post receive any correspondence from franchisees in Queensland raising concerns over the Coorparoo franchise situation and the action that was taken.

(18) Did Australia Post receive any ministerial direction regarding its franchise businesses; if so, what was the direction and when was it received.

*1928  Senator Humphries: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship—With reference to partner visa applications:

(1) How many: (a) individuals; and (b) women, are currently on the waiting list for a Partner (Provisional) (Class UF) visa.

(2) From which countries do these individuals come.

(3) What is the average waiting period for this visa.

(4) What are the fees paid to the department for processing applications for this visa.

(5) How many departmental staff are engaged in processing the applications.

(6) How many applications have been received from Australian citizens.

(7) Is priority given to Australian citizens.

(8) Is there an internal review process for applications that are rejected at the first instance; if not, why not.

(9) What is the cause of delays in processing applications for this visa.

*1929  Senator Abetz: To ask the Minister representing the Treasurer—With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 1792 (Senate Hansard , 20 June 2012, proof p. 103), is this to be interpreted to mean that all the investments and jobs referred to have been created as a result of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax; if not, can an answer relevant to the question be provided.

 

 *1930  Senator Abetz: To ask the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy—With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 1865 (Senate Hansard , 20 June 2012, proof p. 127), in relation to the National Broadband Network (NBN):

(1) Is this to be interpreted to mean that no information has been collected by the NBN on the documents lodged with local governments.

(2) Has the NBN lodged plans with local governments.

(3) Can the full details requested in question on notice no. 1865 be provided.