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Notice given 30 May 2012

1866  Senator Abetz: To ask the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy—With reference to Australia Post and the Lightning Ridge Post Office:

(1) Given that the Post Office licensee has been informed that there will be a number of changes to the license agreement and that one of these changes is to reduce the counter mail delivery:

(a) does Australia Post intend to restrict counter mail deliveries at the Post Office; if so, will the counter mail deliveries be restricted to just 752 mail recipients; if not, what amount of counter mail deliveries will be delivered;

(b) how many people rely on this means of delivery to receive their mail;

(c) is the figure of a minimum of 4 400 recipients correct; if not, why not;

(d) where and how was this figure determined;

(e) when the new counter mail delivery measure has been put in place: (i) what will happen to the balance of the deliveries, and (ii) how will Australia Post service those residents in the future;

(f) will the number of Post Office box leases be expanded; and

(g) (i) what process was used to determine which residents would be eligible for this service and which residents would not, and (ii) who made this decision.

(2) Given that the Post Office licensee has been informed that Australia Post intends to restrict delivery to one delivery point per area:

(a) is it true that there will be a restriction on delivery points for the Lightning Ridge region; if so, what will be the restriction;

(b) how many delivery points will be cut in this review;

(c) is it correct that Australia Post will only pay for one delivery point for each area, such as Simms Hill, despite the fact that upwards of 200 people may live in that area and that the remaining 199 people will need to use a Post Office box or have their mail returned to sender;

(d) what delivery points other than Simms Hill will be affected; and

(e) who will identify the delivery point to be serviced and who will identify the 199 people that will no longer be serviced and will have to take up the option of delivery to a Post Office box at extra expense.

 

 (3) Does Australia Post have a community service obligation to provide mail services that are reasonably accessible to all Australians wherever they reside; if so, how does Australia Post justify the actions being proposed in Lightning Ridge.

(4) Is Australia Post refusing to accept Lightning Ridge residential addresses as verified, despite the fact that they are valid local addresses, well known by the community.

(5) Is Australia Post also stating that incorrectly addressed Post Office box mail, where the Post Office manager/owner knows that street address, now cannot be redirected and must be returned to sender.

(6) Does Australia Post intend that all mail for a Post Office box holder, not correctly addressed to a Post Office box, be returned to sender; if so:

(a) (i) is the Post Office currently paid a mail service payment to help manage this mail, and (ii) does Australia Post intend to remove this payment;

(b) does Australia Post uphold this policy and send its own mail to their clients’ PO box and not to their home address in areas where this policy is stipulated; and

(c) how will the senders of mail to these recipients know to address the mail to a PO box and not a home address.

(7) Given that the Post Office has been informed of new arrangements for mail sorting:

(a) does Australia Post intend to change the rate of the outward mail processing fee in Lightning Ridge by demanding that all mail for the local community leave the Post Office and be transported to the nearest delivery centre for sorting before being transported back to that Post Office and then have staff from that Post Office unload the mail from the delivery truck that has now been sorted at the local delivery point;

(b) does this mean that the new process for a letter handed over the counter at the Post Office to go to a delivery point just 2 metres from the counter, could take up to 3 days; and

(c) by what measure is this new process more efficient and goes towards providing a more effective mail service.

(8) Does Australia Post intend to remove the telephone subsidy paid to rural licensees; if so:

(a) is this due to the increased cost of rural licensees to contact the network offices, located in major cities, which in the case of Lightning Ridge is now located in Sydney;

(b) if the increased cost is not the reason, why then is the subsidy being removed; and

(c) will Australia Post be breaking its agreement by the removal of this subsidy.

(9) Where the licensee can demonstrate an increase of counter delivery points, do the additional payments for each of those delivery points form part of the agreement made with Australia Post; if not, why not.