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Tuesday, 13 October 1970

Mr HULME - There should not be any delay because of any disagreement between the Post Office, the Department of Civil Aviation and Ansett Airlines of Australia in relation to charges for the carriage of mail. I think I should make some explanation about this situation which was reported in one of the newspapers this morning. It is to be appreciated that if the Post Office is to be regarded as a business undertaking it must look not only at the revenue side of its accounts but also at the costs side. The Post Office spends annually many millions of dollars on the conveyance of mail to various parts of Australia and also overseas.

In an examination of the rates of charge for the carriage of mail internally it was noticed that there was a substantial difference - approximately 50 per cent - between the cost of carriage of passengers and freight and the cost of carriage of mail. It has always been my understanding that usually the large user tends to have a lower rate than the small user. As a result of this investigation it was believed that payments larger than necessary were being made to the internal airlines, and the Government decided that there should be a reduction. This was put to the 2 internal airlines. It was accepted by Trans-Australia Airlines but not accepted by Ansett Airlines of Australia. A different situation in principle applies in regard to overseas carriage of mail by air. The Universal Postal Union determines the rate of charge by overseas airlines. There is a very substantial difference in charge between the carriage of letter mail overseas and the carriage of other mail overseas. The difference is 4 gold francs as against 1 gold franc. I am speaking approximately. At the last UPU meeting in Japan last year it was decided that there would be a reduction in the letter rate of 25 per cent. This will apply from 1st July 1972.

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