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Monday, 11 November 1991
Page: 2828


Senator BROWNHILL (4.26 p.m.) —I concur completely with the remarks that have been made by some of the other speakers and note a couple of areas that affect my constituency in New South Wales—people who live outside the major metropolitan area. I notice that the annual report of the Australian Postal Commission says that while the bulk of its services is concentrated in cities and regional centres, Australia Post is committed to providing regular mail services to the most distant parts of the nation, using 3,300 contractors who are managed by staff based at regional centres.

  I would like to make the point that during the recent strike in New South Wales some of those mail services did continue to operate on the day of the strike; but some other services did not operate on the day of the strike to areas where the mail service runs on only every second day. I would have thought that the mail should get through. I imagine that that has always been the way in the past when people swam across flooded creeks with mailbags on their backs or, as we sometimes had to do, pulled a mailbag swinging in the middle of an endless rope across the creek. I think it is quite sad that just recently during that strike that type of action was not taken. If the people providing this service were not going to work on the day of the strike, it is a pity that they then did not deliver the mail to the people on that mail run the next day. As I said, it meant that no mail went through for three days which is not to be tolerated.

  I also notice that changes to letter delivery timetables followed market research. I know that there are some problems in the northern part of the State where mailboxes have been taken away completely and people are not getting any delivery of mail service outside some towns or cities because it is regarded as being non-profitable. When we see that so much profit is being made by Australia Post, we should also look at the services that are provided to the people in those communities by Australia Post.

  I note that the managing director's report states:

We also faced up to the need for overhead cost reductions. In 1988, working with the consultants McKinsey and Company, we streamlined Australia Post and reduced overheads by $50 million.

I think it is great—and I support Senator Bjelke-Petersen in this—to streamline and to make things very efficient. But, basically, I think Australia Post has to give a service to all people, wherever they live. It is just as important for somebody in a country area to get a solicitor's letter or a cheque as it is for another person in a city area to receive that letter or cheque or whatever it happens to be. Basically, I am saying to Australia Post, `Don't forget the country dwellers—the people who live outside the major metropolitan areas—because they contribute just as much to Australia as everyone else and they are deserving of a service, as is everyone else in the community'.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.