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Thursday, 17 November 1983
Page: 2911

Mr DUFFY (Minister for Communications)(8.11) —The matters raised by the Opposition indicate its intention to oppose the extension of the agency arrangements to allow Australia Post to offer agency services to the private sector. It is somewhat surprising that the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd), as a National Party of Australia representative, has taken the view that he has taken. He admitted the advantages that this service provides in country areas. I think it goes further than that. It has particular advantages to country areas. That the extension of Australia Post's ability to undertake agencies for private sector principals will create unfair competition is one of the criticisms that has been made. No doubt, private sector organisations will exercise their commercial judgment on whether it is advantageous and financially rewarding to engage Australia Post to undertake agency services on their behalf. At present unfair competition could be said to exist between public sector principals and their private sector competitors in some of the areas covered by the honourable member for Murray such as banking, insurance, lottery ticket sales and the bond market. The Opposition's attitude to the proposal to allow Australia Post into the agency area is, to say the least, surprising. Even at this early stage it is clear that there is considerable acceptance of this proposal because considerable interest has been shown by the private sector in allowing Australia Post to act in this agency area. It is a little disappointing that the Opposition has taken the view it has taken on this matter. It is a matter, I suppose, for the Opposition to decide. I find its attitude even more surprising, having regard to the advantage that the measure will give to country areas.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 7 to 10-by leave-taken together, and agreed to.

Clause 11 (Letters not to be carried for reward).