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Thursday, 1 November 2012
Page: 8866

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (18:00): This report of the Australian Postal Corporation is interesting. As I did at estimates, I congratulate Australia Post for the very substantial profit that they achieved in this financial year. Unfortunately, I do not have the page in the report where the profit is related, but from memory it was in the order of $280 million. That is a good result for any business. I understand it is an increase in the profit. The corporation was very proud of that, particularly given that mail has become a less important part of the revenue of Australia Post. I did indicate at estimates I was pleased to see this government agency making such big profits and passing on those profits to the government—and, of course, that is to a degree helping the government to balance its books. Without Australia Post it would be another $0.3 billion worse off. It was a good result.

I have been pursuing Australia Post for some time about a mail centre at Rockhampton. Without boring the Senate and going over it in detail yet again, I will mention briefly that the Australia Post mail centre in Rockhampton is now situated on a site that originally was a small suburban post office. It is on the corner of Dalrymple Street in North Rockhampton, where residents have lived for a decade. Since the change of use to a mail centre the noise from the trucks coming in at 3 am and 4 am unpacking parcels and dropping them on the cement and from forklifts going backwards and forwards—and, as you know, for workplace health and safety reasons every time they go backwards they beep—has become intolerable for the residents, who have been there for a long time.

We have been trying to get Australia Post to move that major industrial operation. The Rockhampton Regional Council have made it quite clear and have passed resolutions to the effect that, if it were not a government agency, it would have been shut down years ago because that sort of activity is not appropriate for a residential area. But, because it is a government agency, it is above the Rockhampton city council planning guidelines.

I have been arguing this with Senator Conroy with no success and with Mr Fahour, the Managing Director of Australia Post, for a long period of time. At these estimates when I was congratulating Mr Fahour about his significant increase in profit I asked, 'You couldn't use $10 million of that profit to shift the Rockhampton mail exchange out to the industrial estate where it belongs?' He conceded there. I helped report him to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for competitive neutrality breaches because they do not comply with the rules and regulations of the Rockhampton city council. Whilst Mr Fahour was not prepared to say he would use some of that profit to do this, he did give me some encouragement in saying that Australia Post was embarking upon a $6 billion expansion in Queensland, most of which would be in the north. When I questioned what 'the north' was, he said anything north of the Gold Coast. Notwithstanding that, whilst he did not say this, I had some confidence from hearing him say that Australia Post might be looking at how to move this mail centre from this residential area out to the industrial estate. I continue to urge Australia Post to do that as a good citizen. It would also increase the efficiency in their operation and it could be a win-win situation for everyone involved. I am anxiously awaiting an announcement on how they are going to spend the $6 billion on the capital expansion in Queensland. (Time expired)

Question agreed to.