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Rural Transaction Centre revamp: not good enough.

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Rural Transaction Centre Revamp - Not Good Enough Sue Mackay - Shadow Minister for Regional Services

Media Statement - 15 September 2000

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After an ongoing campaign by the Labor Party to force the Government to fast track the Rural Transaction Centre (RTC) Program, finally the Government has been embarassed into action, Senator Sue Mackay, Shadow Minister for Regional Services, said today.

Following reports earlier this week of a Cabinet decision to revamp the program, Senator Mackay welcomed the Government's belated acknowledgment of the problems under the RTC Program, and urged the Government to take further action to get the program moving.

"The management of this program has been an absolute disgrace. The Labor Party has been monitoring its progress closely over its 18 month life and has watched while it has fallen further and further behind schedule", said Senator Mackay

The Minister has still failed to refute allegations that RTC's announcements are being stockpiled for a pre-election porkbarrel. The Minister should immediately produce a clear timetable of proposed approval numbers to ensure country Australians that the stockpile is off the agenda.

"The Government is now talking about using Licensed Post Offices (LPOs) to provide some of the services offered by Rural Transaction Centres (RTCs) - a Labor idea announced 6 months ago.

"Yet, at the same time they are planning to deregulate Australia Post. This is predicted by Australia Post to cut into their revenue to the tune of $100 million, representing 26% of its overall profit. This will mean the closure of Post Offices in the bush with LPO's being driven out of business.

"It's just incredible that at the same time the Government is planning enormous cuts to Australia Post, it is talking about giving LPOs an increased role through the RTC program. You can't have it both ways.

The Government should move to implement Labor's proposal of expanding the provision of services available in Post Offices and LPO's already, announced by Kim Beazley earlier this year.

"In stark contrast to the Government, the Labor Party will be taking this policy of an increased role for Australia Post to the next election", Senator Mackay said.

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.