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Postal Industry Ombudsman to be established.

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Senator the Hon Helen Coonan Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts

Media Release

Media Contact: Jane McMillan 0438 690 305

024/06 30 March 2006

Postal Industry Ombudsman to be established

Legislation to create a dedicated Ombudsman for the postal industry was passed by the Parliament last night, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, said today.

The Postal Industry Ombudsman (PIO) will have the power investigate and act on complaints about the delivery of postal services in Australia.

“Australia’s postal system is among the best in the world and the introduction of the PIO will ensure that it continues to meet the needs of consumers and the industry into the future,” Senator Coonan said.

“It will provide consumers with a recognisable, dedicated and independent entity to deal with their complaints about postal services deliveries and fulfils an Australian Government election commitment.”

After extensive consultation, the Government decided to establish the PIO as a separate office within the respected and independent Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

“Establishing the PIO as a dedicated office within the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office provides the same benefits as a high profile and independent body like the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, but at a lower cost and with the advantage of drawing on the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s existing expertise in postal services,” Senator Coonan said.

The PIO will investigate consumer complaints against Australia Post as well as any private sector postal operator who voluntarily registers with the scheme.

“Any private postal service operators who choose not to opt-in to the scheme will remain subject to State and Territory consumer protection legislation and consumers will continue to be able to make complaints about such private operators to their respective State and Territory Offices of Fair Trading,” Senator Coonan said.

Consistent with the Government’s election commitment to have the scheme funded by industry, the additional costs of the PIO scheme will be recouped from Australia Post and any other postal service providers who register with the scheme.

Cost recovery will be based on the costs incurred by the PIO in investigating complaints.

The PIO scheme will become operational later this year.