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Thursday, 6 December 1973
Page: 4469

Mr Bourchier asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:

(1)   Will he provide a complete list of post offices in Victoria that are to be down-graded.

(2)   Which official post offices are to be relegated to non-official.

(3)   Which non-official post offices are to be closed.

(4)   Will he provide the reason for the decision in respect of each post office, giving details of costs, receipts, etc.

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Official post offices are graded according to the volume and value of business transacted. There are 5 grades, from Grade 1 (e.g., Violet Town) the lowest, to Grade 5 (e.g., Bendigo) the highest. Grading reviews are conducted each 3 years. The last review was in 1972. I am not able to supply you with a list of those official post offices that may change grade following the next review in 1975.

(2)   The following small post offices in Victoria have been identified as being suitable for consideration as to whether they might be operated by suitable local persons rather than by permanent public servants and each will be examined in more detail progressively over the next 3 years or so. The workload at these post offices is low and could be handled satisfactorily under such arrangements without affecting the existing range or grade of services.



While these offices have been listed for examination, firm decisions have not yet been made except for Cressy and Derrinallum which will be converted. The offices at Broadford, Elmore, Heathcote, Maldon, and Romsey are in the Bendigo Electorate. I have arranged for the honourable member to be advised before a change is made at any of these post offices.

(3)   During the last 3 financial years 186 small post offices in Victoria were closed where very little use was made of the facility. There are still a number of such offices in Victoria which are being reviewed progressively, and on an individual basis, to determine whether suitable alternative mail delivery arrangements can be made and, if so, whether there are any local factors which would preclude the office being closed. Until each review is completed it is not wise to predict whether or not a particular office should be closed. However, I have arranged for the honourable member to be advised when a conclusion is reached that a post office in the Bendigo Electorate should be closed.

(4)   The same general reasons apply in all cases. The postal service has incurred trading losses to the order of $140m during the last 8 years. As such trading losses have an impact on postal charges and are also a cost to the taxpayer generally, the Department has been reviewing many aspects of its operations to determine alternative ways of providing adequate postal services more economically. The volume of business at many more small post offices could be handled satisfactorily and more economically by the employment, where practicable, of suitable local persons to operate them, as shown in the Table in (2) above. More economic alternative arrangements could also be made to provide satisfactory service in many more localities currently served by little used post offices which could then be closed.

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