Chapter 3

Background to the inquiry

Australia Post has been a Government Business Enterprise (GBE) since 1989, under the Australian Postal Corporation Act 1989 (the APC Act). The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (Department of Communications), stated that:
Australia Post is wholly owned by the Australian Government represented by two Shareholder Ministers, the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts.1
The Department of Communications administers the APC Act, and in this capacity provides advice to the Minister for Communications on:
Australia Post's performance against its regulatory obligations;
broader postal policy issues; and
general postal legislative and regulatory policy matters.2
As a GBE, Australia Post is subject to the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act), for which the Department of Communications provides administrative support and oversight.3
The Department of Communications also submitted that it provides advice to the Minister, in consultation with the Department for Finance, to support the Ministers' roles in exercising strategic control of Australia Post, including on:
matters pertaining to the governance of Australia Post, including its reporting and accountability arrangements, and its regulatory obligations; and
the performance, financial returns and strategic direction of the business.4
Australia Post is overseen by a Board, appointed 'by the Governor-General on the nomination of Shareholder Ministers'. The Board Charter provides that it must comprise a Chair, Deputy Chair, the Managing Director, and 'not more than six other directors'. Moreover, the Charter states:
The Board will regularly monitor the ongoing independence of each director and the Board generally, to ensure that they continue to exercise unfettered and independent judgement. Specifically:
the Board will ensure that a director does not have any interest that derogates from carrying out the role intended with diligence and care; and
the Board will establish and maintain a formal register of directors' interests to ensure potential conflicts can be identified and managed.5
The Board is the accountable authority for Australia Post. As the report of Maddocks investigation into the proper use of public resources by Australia Post clearly stated:
[Australia Post's] day-to-day operations are the responsibility of the Board and management. Under the PGPA Act, the Board is the accountable authority.6
Under the PGPA Act, the accountable authority is responsible for governing in a way that promotes the proper use and management of public resources, and promoting both the purposes of the entity as well as its financial sustainability.7

Board membership and executive management

This section briefly sets out relevant changes in board membership and in the Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director (CEO) role.
Regarding board membership and positions, current board members at the time of writing and their dates of appointment are:
Mr Lucio Di Bartolomeo (Chair) from November 2019;
Ms Andrea Staines OAM (Deputy Chair) from June 2020;
Mr Mario D'Orazio (Non-Executive Director) from March 2019;
Mr Bruce McIver AM (Non-Executive Director) from December 2015;
Mr Tony Nutt AO (Non-Executive Director) from March 2018;
The Hon Michael Ronaldson (Non-Executive Director) from May 2016;
Ms Jan West AM (Non-Executive Director) from May 2016; and
Ms Deidre Willmott (Non-Executive Director) from June 2017.8
The previous Chair of Australia Post was Mr John Stanhope AO, from 2012 to November 2019.9
Regarding changes in the executive leadership of Australia Post, Ms Christine Holgate was the CEO from October 2017 to 2 November 2020.10 Since her departure from Australia Post, Mr Rodney Boys has been the Acting CEO. Mr Boys' permanent position is Australia Post's Group Chief Financial Officer (CFO), which he commenced in May 2019.11
On 12 April 2021, Mr Paul Graham was named as the incoming CEO of Australia Post, who will take up his role in September 2021. At the time of writing, Mr Graham is the Chief Supply Chain Officer at Woolworths Group.12
Some evidence considered during this inquiry refers to Ms Holgate's predecessor, Mr Ahmed Fahour, who served as CEO from 2009 to 2017.13

Australia Post's community service obligations and performance standards

Under the APC Act, Australia Post must adhere to a set of community service obligations (CSOs). These are to ensure that Australia Post provides a reliable and accessible letters service for all Australians. Some key CSOs include:
Subsection 27(3): Australia Post shall make the letter service available at a single uniform rate of postage for the carriage within Australia;
Subsection 27(4a): Australia Post shall ensure, that in view of the social importance of the letter service, the service is reasonably accessible to all people in Australia on an equitable basis, wherever they reside or carry on business; and
Subsection 27(4b): Australia Post shall ensure that the performance standards (including delivery times) for the letter service reasonably meet the social, industrial and commercial needs of the Australian community.
Australia Post's CSOs are underpinned by performance standards set out in the Australian Postal Corporation (Performance Standards) Regulations 2019 (the regulations). The performance standards include standards relating to the 'frequency, accuracy and speed of delivery, and standards relating to accessibility of services via retail outlets (i.e. Post Offices), and via street posting boxes and other mail lodgement points', including standards for non-metropolitan areas in regional, rural and remote communities.14
Regarding frequency of delivery, the regulations in force prior to the commencement of temporary regulations on 16 May 2020 stipulated that:
Australia Post must service:
daily (except on a Saturday, a Sunday or a public holiday in the place where the delivery point is located)—98% of all delivery points; and
at least 2 days each week—99.7% of all delivery points.15
Regarding accuracy, the performance standards require Australia Post to deliver at least 94 per cent of all reserved services letters to the correct address location, and within the delivery time outlined in the following table:

Figure 3.1:  Delivery times for reserved services (prior to the introduction of the temporary regulations)

Source: Australian Postal Corporation (Performance Standards) Regulations 2019, Part 2, paragraph 8.6 (superseded version)
Part 3 of the regulations prescribes performance standards relating to access and availability of services. This includes the lodgment points that Australia Post must maintain for articles other than bulk mail:
Australia Post must maintain the following mail lodgement points in Australia for the lodgment of postal articles other than bulk mail:
lodgment facilities at each of its retail outlets; and
at least 10,000 street posting boxes.
A lodgment facility at a retail outlet may be a street posting box.16
Part 3 also sets the minimum retail standards that Australia Post must maintain, including in non-metropolitan locations:
Australia Post must maintain, in Australia, at least 4,000 offices (retail outlets) at which persons can purchase Australia Post products and services.
In places that are in a rural or remote zone (within the meaning of the areas classification) there must be, at any time:
at least 50% of all retail outlets in operation; and
no fewer than 2,500 retail outlets.
A retail outlet must be located so that:
at least 90% of residences in a metropolitan area (within the meaning of the areas classification) are located within 2.5 kilometres of a retail outlet; and
at least 85% of residences in the area comprising the non‑metropolitan zones (within the meaning of the areas classification) are located within 7.5 kilometres of a retail outlet.17
Performance against the performance standards are subject to assessment by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO).18

Recent temporary regulatory changes

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia Post sought regulatory relief from the Australian Government (government) in March 2020. Following this, on 21 April 2020, the government announced the Australian Postal Corporation (Performance Standards) Amendment Regulations 2020 (the temporary regulations), which would:
…temporarily adjust Australia Post's Performance Standards to reflect the operating constraints and limitations that have resulted from COVID-19. These adjustments provide Australia Post with flexibility to meet increased demand for online ordering and delivery as people practise social distancing.19
These temporary regulations were introduced to commence on 16 May 2020 to last until 30 June 2021.20
Australia Post's Annual Report 2020 describes the rationale behind the request for temporary regulatory 'relief', and the nature of changes to Australia Post's activities and services:
As we continued to manage significant disruption under COVID-19 restrictions, we sought temporary regulatory relief from the Australian Government to help manage the unprecedented parcel volumes.
The temporary changes to delivery standards will help Australia Post to continue to service the broader needs of the community as quickly as possible.
It will enable us to retrain 2,000 motorcycle Posties as parcel drivers, to help process and deliver parcels in line with timeframes that our business and consumer customers expect.
The temporary regulatory relief includes suspending the priority mail letters service, extending the required delivery time for regular intrastate letters to five days after the day of posting, and allows us to deliver letters in metropolitan areas every second day, freeing up resources to help meet the massive demand for parcels. There have been no changes to letter delivery frequency in rural and remote locations, and also for collection from PO boxes and over the counter at Post Offices in all locations.21

Scrutiny by Senate Delegated Legislation Committee

In mid-2020 the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Delegated Legislation (the Delegated Legislation Committee) scrutinised the temporary regulations, including seeking clarification on several matters from the Minister for Communications, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP.
This included seeking information on whether consultation had been adequate in developing the regulations, particularly if the views of stakeholders had been sought. The correspondence between the Delegated Legislation Committee and the Minister is summarised in Appendix 3.

Disallowance motions

Following their introduction, the temporary regulations were inquired into by the Legislation Committee, as part of its inquiry into the Future of Australia Post's service delivery.22 The regulations were also subject to an unsuccessful disallowance motion in the House of Representatives on 10 November 2020.23

Proposed changes to Australia Post's carriage of perishable food products

In April 2021, Australia Post released a statement that signalled its intention to stop delivering perishable goods from July 2021, including meats, seafood, eggs, frozen meals and other products:
Due to the complex food safety and regulatory requirements differing across states and territories, Australia Post will discontinue the carriage of certain foods destined for consumption across the delivery network from 30 June…
We understand the impact of this decision on many producers, and we are currently working with our customers and industry regulators to determine a path forward.
This includes meeting with food safety regulators and health authorities to discuss the regulations imposed on Australia Post.
The carriage of perishable food requirements differ by state and include complex requirements on vehicle type, site and vehicle registration, licence maintenance, staff training and audit requirements.24
Following this announcement, a number of stakeholders from diverse sectors noted the devastating effects this would have on agricultural producers, small businesses and retailers across Australia.25 This led to Australia Post reversing the decision on 22 April 2021, which is discussed later in this report.26

Background to the inquiry

This section of the report provides an overview of several relevant matters to the terms of reference for this inquiry, including:
Australia Post's Bank@Post service;
recent reviews and reports into Australia Post, including those undertaken by management consultancy companies, as well as Senate committees; and
the current regulatory changes to Australia Post's charter, which were introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Bank@Post is an Australia Post service that provides access to the banking services of over 80 banks and financial institutions at over 3500 Post Offices across Australia.27
Australia Post significantly renegotiated their Bank@Post service in 2018. This is relevant to this inquiry, as the watches given to senior Australia Post executives in October 2018 were to recognise their work on the 'refresh' renegotiations for the Bank@Post arrangements with banks and financial institutions.
The Bank@Post service provides individual and business account holders of participating banks a capacity to manage withdrawals and deposits, and make balance inquiries at Australia Post outlets.28 This includes offering banking facilities at more than 1800 Post Offices and licenced post offices in rural and regional areas, where banks and financial institutions have often closed down local branches.29
Australia Post's Annual Report 2019 noted the Bank@Post 'refresh' deal as a 'landmark' and 'historic', and a highlight of the organisation's performance that financial year:
We signed the historic Bank@Post community agreements this year [2018], first with Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac and then others to cover a total of 74 financial institutions.
The Community Representation Fee paid by these institutions will enable their customers to continue to conduct banking transactions in 3,500 Post Offices across Australia using the Bank@Post service.30
The report noted that the Community Representation Fee (CRF) paid by participating banks 'offset in part' Australia Post's 'continuing losses in the letters business'.31 Moreover, the report also noted that it had contributed to the Australia Post key performance indicator (KPI) to 'Rejuvenate role of Post Office Network', particularly by enabling 'critical IT investment to support new and additional services', and:
….completing the reset of our payments to Licensed Post Offices; the first significant transition in over 20 years, and largely enabled by our refreshed Bank@Post agreements. The reset has resulted in a sustainable payments model that reflects fair returns for a contemporary range of post office services…32
Additionally, the report noted that the Bank@Post experience had proven 'immense value of the vital services that we deliver to rural and regional areas', and given the organisation areas to develop going forward, including providing telecommunications services for some rural and regional communities where residents could not 'currently purchase a mobile phone locally'.33
Australia Post has clarified that the accumulated revenue from Bank@Post agreements negotiated in 2018 has been approximately $216 million, which 'enabled Australia Post to increase payments to Licensed Post Offices and further invest in [the] Post Office network'.34
The Bank@Post initiative went some way to addressing already-raised concerns about Australia Post, including the role of post offices in regional and remote communities, the loss of income from declining letter traffic, and potential improvements to agreements with LPOs.35

Reviews and inquiries into Australia Post

In the last decade there have been several reviews and inquiries that have considered the challenges facing Australia Post and its future role. This section outlines some with particular relevance to this inquiry:
KordaMentha: work commissioned by Australia Post into finding cost savings in Australia Post’s corporate centre, and other work across
2018 and 19;
BCG: Assessment of AusPost's financial sustainability (2020), commissioned by Shareholder Ministers (BCG Review);
Deloitte: Economic Assessment of Australia Post's activities during COVID-19 (2020), commissioned by Australia Post; and
a review being undertaken by McKinsey at the time of writing, which was commissioned by Australia Post.
A number of other reviews into Australia Post that have been undertaken since 2014 are discussed in Appendix 3.36
This section also considers the Senate inquiry into Australia Post undertaken by the Legislation Committee, Future of Australia Post's service delivery (Service Delivery Report 2020).

KordaMentha: cost savings in corporate centre and other work

Answers to questions on notice from Australia Post regarding KordaMentha’s engagement were received on 21 May 2021, which was too late to be properly considered by the committee for inclusion in this report.
The committee has published the relevant question on notice on its website, which includes confirmation that KordaMentha received $965 000 before GST in 2019 to ‘assist transformation of the cost base and identification and implementation of sustainable savings focused on the corporate centre’, as well as five smaller contracts between $31 000 and $87 000 in 2018 and 2019.37

Deloitte Access Economics: Economic Assessment of Australia Post's activities during COVID-19 (2020)

Australia Post commissioned Deloitte to undertake a review of Australia Post's activities during COVID-19, which was handed to Shareholder Departments on 8 July 2020, and released publicly.38 Deloitte stated that this report was to:
...provide Australia Post with high level analysis of the value to the economy of changes in its activities to assist businesses during the
COVID-19 crisis. This analysis is based on Australia Post and industry data available in late June [2020] and focuses on the benefit from increased parcel delivery activity. It is not a full assessment of the impacts of changes to performance delivery standards granted to Australia Post until
June 2021.39
The key findings of the analysis were that:
Australia Post's delivery activities facilitated an additional $2.4 billion in
e-commerce during the COVID-19 crisis to date, including $560 million for regional and remote areas across Australia—helping businesses trade at a time two-thirds of all businesses reported revenue declines[;]
some 23,000 extra small business customers used the MyPost delivery service during COVID-19 each month, on average; and existing customers will have sold higher volumes, on average, either directly or through other distributors or retailers[;]
Australia Post helped facilitate an extra 26 million transactions that may not have occurred through in-store visits because of lockdowns–helping businesses, helping customers[; and]
Australia Post's total economic contribution to GDP over the three months to May 2020 was $1.8 billion, contributing 58,800 jobs (in full-time equivalent terms), which is 12% higher in real terms than a typical
three-month period in 2016-17 when the economic contribution was last calculated.40

Boston Consulting Group: Assessment of AusPost's financial sustainability (2020)

In February 2020, BCG completed its strategic review, Assessment of AusPost's financial sustainability, which was commissioned by the Shareholder Ministers, Minister Fletcher and then Minister Cormann.
In announcing the review in mid-2019, the Shareholder Ministers issued a joint press release that indicated it was being commissioned to coincide with the end of the tenure of Mr John Stanhope AO as Australia Post Chair, whose second term expired on 21 November 2019. The ministers stated that the findings of the BCG review would inform the new chair, Mr Di Bartolomeo, as well as the Board and CEO:
Australia Post remains one of the few national postal services globally which can earn profits and return dividends to government while fulfilling its customer service obligations.
The Government will announce the appointment of a new Chair shortly.
To inform the incoming Chair and further inform the Board and Chief Executive Officer, in addition to Australia Post's existing Corporate Plan 2023, the Australian Government has appointed management consulting firm BCG to conduct a review of Australia Post's strategy to operate as a sustainable and fit-for-purpose service provider for the longer term. This review will consider broader market conditions such as growth in
e-commerce, the regulatory environment, and changes in business and consumer needs. The review is expected to report back to Government in early 2020.41
The final review was handed to government on 21 February 2020, and was not released publicly.42
In mid-2020, the government raised a public interest immunity claim so as to not release the final BCG report to the Senate's Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, which was then inquiring into Australia Post's future service delivery.43
In doing so, former Minister Cormann made a public immunity interest claim on the following grounds, which were accepted by the Legislation Committee:
Both the 'Review of Australia Post' and the 31 March [2020] letter [from Australia Post to Shareholder Ministers requesting temporary regulatory relief] were used to inform the deliberations of Cabinet. Release of this information would reveal the core material and information considered by the Cabinet in its deliberations that have not been publicly disclosed.
In addition, the documents sought by the Committee also contain detailed, commercially sensitive information relating to Australia Post's operations. The release of this information has the potential to jeopardise Australia Post's commercial operations and to impact its ability to engage in commercial arrangements.44
The cost of the BCG Review was $1.32 million, which was paid for by a special dividend made to the Shareholder Ministers from Australia Post profits.45
On 31 July 2020, BCG also received an extension to this contract of $589 620, to undertake further work on the effects of COVID-19 on Australia Post, which was paid by the Department of Finance.46

Documents available to the committee

The committee received and published an Executive Summary of the Review to inform its deliberations.47 On 3 May 2021, the committee received a presentation of the BCG Review that was provided to the Board for an extensive Board Meeting on 20 February 2020, and published a redacted version on its website.48
The committee notes that the Board was given this presentation only one day before the final report was received by the government on 21 February 2020.

Content of the report and proposed reform options

BCG summarised the Terms of Reference for the Review as follows:
the sustainability of the cost base
the Post Office Network and retail footprint
prioritisation of core business and potential removal of non-core functions/discretionary initiatives
workforce reforms [and]
optimising Post's asset base and capital structure[.]49
The BCG Review found that Australia Post 'expects to become an increasingly parcels-focused operator by FY23, with growing sidelines in financial and identity services'.50 It forecast a continuing decline in letter volumes, strong growth in areas—but with competitive challenges in the market, declining footfall in the post office network, and suggested that its 'cost base has grown largely in line with revenue, despite investments in automation and ongoing efficiency programs'.51 This, BCG posited, had the following outlook:
Conservative case shows losses starting FY21 with incremental efficiencies, AusPost remains in a somewhat precarious financial position…52
BCG noted that Australia Post forecasts a strong and steady growth in parcel traffic, even if this was an area in which challenges could emerge from slowing eCommerce, competition from other players in the sector, and keeping growth steady while also 'achieving price growth and cost efficiency simultaneously'.53
The BCG Review relied upon an Australia Post forecast of domestic parcel volumes, which suggested a significant growth in parcels from 236 million to 456 million parcels over 2019–2030, an almost doubling in volume.54
In setting out its approach to developing potential reform options, the BCG Review noted:
Stakeholders have expressed a commitment to AusPost's long-term financial sustainability and delivery of relevant services, and an openness to considering a broad range of paths forward.55
In framing possibilities for reform options, the Review noted a number of advantages and constraints from Australia Post's 'structure, history and regulations'. Regarding the latter, BCG noted:
Limited flexibility to change labour mix or cost in the deliveries business, in part due to regulated delivery frequency and speed requirements (requiring large workforce of postal delivery officers, as delivery options grow and despite mail volumes decline) and relatively restricted [Enterprise Bargaining Agreement] terms.
Limited flexibility to increase prices on regulated mail products, with changes to Basic Postage Rate requiring ACCC and Government review process.
Challenges when attempting to close underperforming post offices, attributed to negative public and political response to planned closures. [Emphasis in original]56
BCG noted that the then-current Australia Post Corporate Plan efficiency program was forecast to save approximately $920 million across financial years 2020–23.57 BCG also identified scope for Australia Post to find some 'BCG benchmarked efficiencies' within the current regulatory and operating constraints, including in the following areas:
Letters: reducing street mail boxes; introducing midday collection and changing start times; accelerating network consolidation; and driving automation and predictive maintenance in processing;
Parcels: further optimisation of network, delivery routes, and fleet mix and driver workforce mix; and driving automation and predictive maintenance in processing;
Consumer: range optimisation and pricing differentiation; leveraging instore partnerships to reduce ownership costs and footprint; explore analytics-driven marketing; and reducing cost of goods sold and sales, general and administrative spend;
Financial and identity services: standardising transaction, increasing automation and self-service; and reducing error and fraud; and
Corporate functions: optimising labour size and mix, support function processing, and procurement processes and property portfolio.58
In addition, the BCG Review found a number of reform options, as set out in a table below. These reform options included a proposal for reforming letter delivery by reducing current stipulated delivery frequency, speed, and point of delivery, and lifting prices across 2024–30.59
The BCG 'Overview of reform options' also found that Australia Post's current parcel services could be partially or fully privatised, through 'Targeted divestitures' or 'Full or partial divestiture with SLAs' (service-level agreements).60
The BCG review noted that the privatisation or divestiture of parcels would plunge Australia Post into losses, whilst providing a one-off financial benefit for government. At that time, two estimates of the net present value of Australia Post divestiture of parcels were provided, calculated on different premium rates: the 'typical premium (30%)'; and a much higher estimate using 'Toll–Japan Post Premium (48%)'.61
BCG's summary of its recommendations stated that:
Improving AusPost's financial sustainability will require additional actions beyond those identified in the current Corporate Plan. This must include additional efficiencies that can be implemented without changes to AusPost's current regulatory and operating environment. BCG's view is that these actions would have the effect of delaying, rather than avoiding, a loss-making trajectory for AusPost.62
Given this outlook, BCG advised that it would be 'prudent for Government and AusPost to undertake more fundamental, sequenced reforms to AusPost's regulatory environment and operations', including:
Reducing letters service standards (frequency and/or speed) to drive a sustainable 20-30% reduction in the letters cost base
Streamlining the metro CPO [Corporate Post Offices which are owned and operated by Australia Post] network by closing at least 106 unprofitable outlets, while maintaining access for metro households to at least one post office within 2.5 km
Exploring the potential for a divestiture of Parcels, while noting that this would leave a loss-making core business without meaningful reforms to Letters.63

Figure 3.2:  BCG Review: Overview of reform options

Source: BCG Presentation to Australia Post Board of Directors, 20 February 2020, p. 22

McKinsey and Company: ongoing review

Australia Post has commissioned McKinsey to undertake a review scoping potential reforms to its delivery network, which is currently ongoing. Australia Post provided the terms of reference for this review to the committee:
The objective of this project is to define the future state delivery network for Australia Post. This includes transport, production and first/last mile. The future role of, and implications for, the post office network and parcel lockers also need to be tightly interwoven into this design, given their importance to the last mile and customer experience.
In order to build this future state model, it will be important to develop a robust fact base on market evolution under a set of scenarios. This needs to be driven by a view on Australia Post's aspiration for customer experience (across merchants, businesses, consumers/households, etc.) This process will incorporate key strategic choices around product in to the network design (e.g., oversize parcels, business-to-business (B2B) road express business), refining these choices where necessary.
The outcome will be a future state view of the delivery network, estimate of the customer service levels/experience and economics (including investment required) it will deliver, execution roadmap and required enablers (e.g. capabilities, enterprise agreement (EBA), regulatory). For clarity, this will not be a 'geospatial blueprint' of exactly what the future network looks like (e.g. location of sorting centres, where to locate fleet etc.), although it will provide the underpinning for that subsequent detailed design work.
The Alternating Day Delivery Model (ADM) currently being piloted is a critical stepping stone in building the future network for Australia Post. As such, an additional objective of this project is to work with the Operations team to understand opportunities to maximise the value of this model.64
Australia Post stated that McKinsey commenced work on this on 18 May 2020, following some 'informal work and preparatory work in the months prior'.65

Senate inquiry into the Future of Australia Post's service delivery (2020)

The Legislation Committee tabled a report into the Future of Australia Post's service delivery network on 25 August 2020. The inquiry had the following terms of reference:
the Australian Postal Corporation (Performance Standards) Amendment Regulations 2020 and their impact on services, the Australia Post workforce and affected businesses;
the impact of COVID-19 on the financial position of Australia Post and its future;
a sustainable plan for Australia Post to provide:
services that meet community needs and expectations,
job security for its workforce, and
support for regional and metropolitan licensed post offices;
international and domestic trends with parcels, letters and pricing; and
any related matters.66
The report made three recommendations, the third of which was that:
Recommendation 3: Should the Australian government choose to implement future strategic changes to the postal service, the committee recommends the government commence a comprehensive public consultation on options for the future of Australia Post's service delivery, with the results to inform future regulatory and policy reforms.
The consultation process should consider the changing domestic and global environment, reforms implemented in other jurisdictions, and proposals for reform in relation to:
the Australian Postal Corporation Act 1989 and associated regulations, and the Community Service Obligations;
regulating parcel services and/or pricing, especially in rural, regional and remote areas;
proposals for guaranteeing accessible, reliable and affordable postal services in rural, regional and remote areas;
the licenced post office network, how licensees are remunerated, and the number and location of licenced post offices;
options for expanding the service offering of licenced post offices; and
ways in which Australia Post can support Australian businesses and communities during the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.67
Dissenting reports were made by Labor senators and the Australian Greens. Both argued that the temporary regulations introduced by the government would reduce the quality of services provided by Australia Post for many Australians, as well as put the jobs of many Australia Post employees at risk.68
Both also noted there was evidence to suggest that the government was using the temporary nature of the regulations to make contentious changes to Australia Post, under cover of COVID-19. It was argued that the government would try to extend the regulations, to make the reductions to CSOs carry on beyond their expiry on 1 July 2021, or permanent.
The dissenting reports also outlined evidence that the government had not sufficiently consulted with workers, businesses, post users and other stakeholders before implementing these temporary measures.69
Labor senators set out evidence that suggested the government had been looking for ways to make changes to CSOs for 'some time', and that this intention had informed the procurement of the government-commissioned BCG Report and Australia Post's own Strategic Review undertaken by PwC.70
Matters raised in the committee and dissenting reports are discussed further in Chapter 9 of this report, as this inquiry received evidence relating to the temporary measures and the BCG's recommendation for the potential privatisation of parts of Australia Post.

  • 1
    Department of Finance, 'Australia Post', (accessed 25 May 2021).
  • 2
    Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (Department of Communications), Submission 16, p. 1.
  • 3
    Department of Communications, Submission 16, p. 1.
  • 4
    Department of Communications, Submission 16, p. 1.
  • 5
    Australia Post, 'Board Charter', pp. 1–2,
    (accessed 25 May 2021).
  • 6
    Maddocks, Australia Post Investigation into the proper use of public resources at Australia Post, [p. 2]. Available as Attachment A to Department of Finance, Submission 2. Published by Department of Finance on 22 January 2021, (accessed 25 May 2021).
  • 7
    Public Governance, Performance, and Accountability Act 2013, s. 15.
  • 8
    Australia Post, 'Board of Directors', (accessed 25 May 2021).
  • 9
    The Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts (Minister for Communications) and Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance, 'Chair of the Board of Australia Post', Joint Media Release, 1 July 2019, (accessed 25 May 2021).
  • 10
    Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), 'Australia Post names Christine Holgate as new CEO, replacing Ahmed Fahour', ABC Online, 27 June 2017, (accessed 25 May 2021).
  • 11
    Australia Post, 'Our Executive Team', (accessed 25 May 2021).
  • 12
    Australia Post, 'Paul Graham named as new Australia Post Group CEO and MD', Media Release, 12 April 2021, (accessed 25 May 2021).
  • 13
    Patrick Durkin, 'How Ahmed Fahour delivered Australia Post back into the black', Financial Review, (accessed 25 May 2021).
  • 14
    Australia Post, Annual Report 2020, p. 86.
  • 15
    Australian Postal Corporation (Performance Standards) Regulations 2019, Part 2, paragraph 7.1. Note: the relevant regulations provide that 'a delivery point is a mail address that, taking account of accessibility, delivery cost and general volume of mail for the address, it is practicable and reasonable to service frequently'. Examples of delivery points provided are: Street and roadside letter delivery boxes, post office private boxes and locked bags, private and community bags. 'Service' means that Australia Post must 'be available to visit the delivery point and, if there is a postal article addressed to the delivery point, deliver the article' (Part 2, 5(2) and (3)).
  • 16
    Australian Postal Corporation (Performance Standards) Regulations 2019, Part 3, paragraph 10.
  • 17
    Australian Postal Corporation (Performance Standards) Regulations 2019, Part 3, paragraph 11.
  • 18
    For instance, see the audit table of performance standards in Australia Post, Annual Report 2020, p. 139.
  • 19
    The Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications and Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance, 'Supporting Australia Post through COVID-19', Joint Media Release,
    21 April 2020, (accessed 25 May 2021).
  • 20
    See the full Australian Postal Corporation (Performance Standards) Amendment Regulations 2020 at (accessed 25 May 2021).
  • 21
    Australia Post, Annual Report 2020, p. 16.
  • 22
    See later in this chapter for an overview of the Legislation Committee's inquiry and report.
  • 23
    House of Representatives Official Hansard, 10 November 2020, p. 9316. The disallowance motion in the Senate was withdrawn on 25 August 2020, Journals of the Senate, No. 60—25 August 2020, p. 2101.
  • 24
    Australia Post statement released to NCA Newswire, reported in Evin Priest, 'Australia Post to stop delivering perishable foods from June 30', The Australian, 20 April 2021, (accessed 25 May 2021).
  • 25
    For instance, see Eden Hynninen, 'Producers "devastated" as Australia Post decides to stop delivering perishable food', ABC Online, 20 April 2021, (accessed 25 May 2021).
  • 26
    See Chapter 10. Australia Post, 'Sending perishable food products', (accessed 25 May 2021).
  • 27
    Australia Post, 'Bank@Post',
    (accessed 25 May 2021).
  • 28
    Australia Post, 'Bank@Post'.
  • 29
    Australia Post, 'Bank@Post'.
  • 30
    Australia Post, Annual Report 2019, p. 15. See also p. 1 and p. 12.
  • 31
    For instance, see Australia Post, Annual Report 2019, p. 15 and p. 72.
  • 32
    Australia Post, Annual Report 2019, p. 72 and p. 87.
  • 33
    Australia Post, Annual Report 2019, p. 37.
  • 34
    Australia Post, Submission 3, p. 15.
  • 35
    See, for example, many of the concerns raised in reviews and inquiries into Australia Post, as outlined later in this chapter.
  • 36
    See Appendix 3. Note: In 2020, Deloitte also undertook a study for Australia Post into the Economic and social value of Australia Post in regional, rural and remote communities (2020), discussed further at Chapter 10 of this report.
  • 37
    Australia Post, Answers to written questions on notice asked by Senator Hanson-Young on 7 May 2021–KordaMentha and secondments (received 21 May 2021).
  • 38
    Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, Department of Finance–Answers to questions taken on notice at public hearing in Canberra, 8 July 2020 (received 21 July 2020), p. 2.
  • 39
    Deloitte, Economics, Economic Assessment of Australia Post's activities during COVID-19, July 2020,
    p. 1, (accessed 25 May 2021).
  • 40
    Deloitte, Economics, Economic Assessment of Australia Post's activities during COVID-19, p. 1.
  • 41
    The Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications and Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance, 'Chair of the Board of Australia Post', Joint Media Release, 1 July 2019.
  • 42
    See evidence given by Mr Andrew Jaggers, Deputy Secretary of the Commercial and Government Services, and Ms Stacie Hall, First Assistant Secretary of the Commercial Investments Division, both of the Department of Finance, Committee Hansard, 27 April 2021, pp. 65–66.
  • 43
    This inquiry is outlined later in this chapter.
  • 44
    'Letter from Senator Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance to Senator David Fawcett, Chair of the Committee', Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, Department of Finance, Answers to questions taken on notice at public hearing in Canberra,
    8 July 2020 (received 21 July 2020), p. 4.
  • 45
    Mr Andrew Jaggers, Deputy Secretary of the Commercial and Government Services, Department of Finance, Committee Hansard, 27 April 2021, p. 66.
  • 46
    Department of Finance, Answers to written questions taken on notice, 27 April 2021 (received
    10 May 2021), Question on notice 4, p. 2; and Mr Jaggers, Department of Finance, Committee Hansard, 27 April 2021, p. 66.
  • 47
    The 'Executive Summary marked 'As at 21 February 2020' can be found in: The Issues surrounding the secret review of Australia Post by the Boston Consulting Group, tabled by Ms Christine Holgate, 13 April 2021, at appendix F4 (also called Appendix 4), at (accessed 25 May 2021). Note all page numbers of appendices referenced refer to the page number of the specific appendix, not the consolidated document, which is not paginated consistently.
  • 48
    Note: the copy of the presentation received by the committee was given to the Australia Post Board on 20 February 2020 and marked as 'Draft' and 'For-Official-Use-Only'. The final report was presented to Shareholder Ministers the following day, 21 February 2020. A redacted version of the presentation is available here: Ms Christine Holgate, BCG Presentation to Australia Post Board of Directors, 20 February 2020, (accessed 25 May 2021).
  • 49
    BCG, 'Terms of Reference-Summary' in BCG Presentation to Australia Post Board of Directors, 20 February 2020, Introduction p. 4.
  • 50
    BCG Presentation to Australia Post Board of Directors, 20 February 2020, p. 3.
  • 51
    BCG Presentation to Australia Post Board of Directors, 20 February 2020, pp. 4–7.
  • 52
    BCG Presentation to Australia Post Board of Directors, 20 February 2020, p. 8.
  • 53
    BCG Presentation to Australia Post Board of Directors, 20 February 2020, p. 5.
  • 54
    BCG Presentation to Australia Post Board of Directors, 20 February 2020, p. 5. See also 'Summary' at p. 21.
  • 55
    BCG Presentation to Australia Post Board of Directors, 20 February 2020, p. 10.
  • 56
    BCG Presentation to Australia Post Board of Directors, 20 February 2020, p. 12.
  • 57
    The committee agreed to publish this figure.
  • 58
    BCG Presentation to Australia Post Board of Directors, 20 February 2020, pp. 14–15.
  • 59
    BCG Presentation to Australia Post Board of Directors, 20 February 2020, pp. 15 and 20.
  • 60
    BCG Presentation to Australia Post Board of Directors, 20 February 2020, p. 15.
  • 61
    BCG Presentation to Australia Post Board of Directors, 20 February 2020, pp. 15 and 20.
  • 62
    [Emphasis in original] BCG Presentation to Australia Post Board of Directors, 20 February 2020, p. 22.
  • 63
    BCG Presentation to Australia Post Board of Directors, 20 February 2020, p. 22. The BCG Review is discussed further in later chapters of this report.
  • 64
    Australia Post, Answers to Questions Taken on Notice from the 27 April 2021 hearing (received 6 May 2021), p. 1.
  • 65
    Australia Post, Answer to question on notice number 160, Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, Additional Estimates March 2021, received 14 May 2021, p. 1.
  • 66
    Future of Australia Post's service delivery (2020), p. 1.
  • 67
    Future of Australia Post's service delivery (2020), pp. vii–viii.
  • 68
    See: 'Dissenting report by Labor Senators' and 'Australian Greens' dissenting report', pp. 63–66 and p. 71, respectively.
  • 69
    See: 'Dissenting report by Labor Senators' and 'Australian Greens' dissenting report', pp. 63–66 and p. 71, respectively.
  • 70
    See: 'Dissenting report by Labor Senators', pp. 55–56 and 62–63.

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