The provision and importance of postal services in Australia
This chapter provides background information about Australia Post and
its regulatory framework as well as the importance of Australia Post for the
Australian community, particularly in remote, rural and regional areas.
Postal services have been an integral element of Australian life since
1809, when the first postmaster was appointed for the colony of Sydney. Prior
to federation, the six colonies maintained their own postal services. From
1901, Commonwealth postal services and telecommunications were provided by the
Post Master General's Department (PMG). The PMG was split into the Australian
Postal Commission and the Australian Telecommunications Commission in 1974.
Since 1989, Australia Post has operated as a Government Business
Enterprise (GBE) under the Australian Postal Corporation
Act 1989 (APC Act).
Australia Post is overseen by a Board of Directors comprising the
Managing Director, a Chairperson, a Deputy Chairperson, and up to six more
Australia Post has two Shareholder Ministers: the Minister for Finance
and the Minister for Communications.
The APC Act provides that after consultation with the Board, the Minister for
Communications may, if the Minister considers it necessary in the public
interest, issue to the Board such written directions in relation to the
performance of Australia Post's functions.
The Minister cannot issue written directions in relation to:
rates of postage; or
amounts to be charged for work done, or services, goods or
information supplied, by Australia Post.
There are a range of stakeholders within the Australia Post network
including Australia Post employees, licensees, franchisees, operators of
Community Postal Agencies, mail contractors, unions and the licensee
representative groups – the Post Office Agents Association Limited (POAAL) and
the LPO Group.
Australia Post's functions and obligations
The APC Act sets out the functions and obligations. Australia Post's
principal function is to supply postal services within Australia and between
Australia and places outside Australia.
The APC Act imposes three types of obligations on Australia Post:
community service obligations;
general government obligations.
Each of these obligations are addressed in further detail below
The APC Act imposes the following general commercial obligations upon
Australia Post shall, as far as practicable, perform its
functions in a manner consistent with sound commercial practice.
The Board of Australia Post must also have regard to, among other
the need to earn a commercial rate of return on Australia Post's
the need to maintain Australia Post's financial viability; and
the cost of carrying out Australia Post's community service
Community service obligations
The APC Act provides for a set of community service obligations (CSOs) that
must be adhered to in relation to Australia Post's letter service. These
include that Australia Post must make the letter service available at a single
uniform rate of postage for the carriage within Australia, by ordinary post, of
letters that are standard postal articles.
Australia post is also required to 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
the performance standards (including delivery times) for the
letter service reasonably meet the social, industrial and commercial needs of
the Australian community.
Performance standards to be met by Australia Post are set out in the Australian
Postal Corporation (Performance Standards) Regulations 1998 (Performance
Standards Regulations). The performance standards relate to the frequency,
speed and accuracy of mail delivery for its letters service, and the
availability or accessibility of post boxes and Australia Post offices (or
other places from which Australia Post services may be purchased).
The performance standards require that Australia Post must:
service 98 per cent of all delivery points each weekday, and
further, 99.7 per cent of all delivery points must be serviced at least
two days each week;
deliver at least 94 per cent of all reserved service letters
within prescribed timeframes. The prescribed timeframes range from next
business day after posting within the metropolitan area of a capital city up to
four business days for an interstate posting between non-metropolitan areas;
maintain at least 10,000 street posting boxes, and at least 4,000 retail
outlets at which persons can purchase Australia Post products and services. Of
these retail outlets, at least 50 per cent of all retail outlets, and in any
event, not fewer than 2,500 must be in rural or remote areas. In addition,
retail outlets must be located so that:
in metropolitan areas at least 90 per cent of residences are
within 2.5 km of a retail outlet; and
in non-metropolitan zones at least 85 per cent of residences are
within 7.5km of a retail outlet.
In order to meet its CSOs, Australia Post offers a range of delivery
methods to customers, including those in rural and remote areas, which reflect
cost considerations, transport infrastructure limitations and customer
preferences. These methods include street and roadside delivery, post office box
delivery and counter delivery.
Australia Post also has a number of general governmental obligations to comply
general policies of the Commonwealth of which the directors
(members of the Board) are notified under section 28 of the Commonwealth
Authorities and Companies Act 1997;
any directions given by the Minister under section 49 of the APC
Australia's obligations under any convention (such as the Universal
In addition, Australia Post has obligations as a GBE:
...a principal objective of each GBE is that it adds to
shareholder value by, among other things, operating and pricing efficiently,
and earning at least a commercial rate of return. The Commonwealth
Government Business Enterprise Governance and Oversight Guidelines 2011
stipulates a commercial rate of return to include fully recovering costs and
working towards a financial target and a dividend policy agreed with
shareholder Ministers. The rate of return should be at least sufficient to
justify the long‑term retention of assets in the business, and to pay
commercial dividends from those returns.
Australia Post pays a dividend equivalent to 75 per cent of its profit
after tax. The payments of dividends and financial performance are discussed in
detail in Chapter 4 of this report.
Services 'reserved' to Australia
In recognition that Australia Post must meet certain CSOs, it has a
general monopoly in the carriage and delivery of letters within Australia
subject to some specific exemptions.
Subject to some exceptions, Australia Post has the exclusive right to
collect, carry and deliver letters (weighing under 250g) within Australia and
to issue postage stamps within Australia. The term 'letters' has a meaning that
is wider than its general usage. The APC Act defines 'letter' in section 3 as
meaning any form of written communication that is directed to a particular
person or a particular address. This is known as the 'Reserved Service'.
The exemptions to the Reserved Service including the carriage of:
a letter weighing more than 250 grams;
a letter relating to goods that is sent and delivered with the
a newspaper, magazine, book, catalogue or leaflet, whether or not
directed to a particular person or address and whether or not enclosed in any
sort of cover;
a letter otherwise than for reward;
a letter on behalf of a foreign country under a convention; and
a letter within Australia for a charge or fee that is at least
four times the then rate of postage for the carriage within Australia of a
standard postal article by ordinary post.
The price of postage for items less than 250 grams is known as the Basic
Postage Rate (BPR). Currently, letters less than 250 grams account for 99 per
cent of total letter volume.
Basic Postage rate
Australia Post may seek a variation of the BPR, which it must be
assessed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and must
notify the Minister. This undertaken pursuant to the Competition and
Consumer Act 2010 (CC Act).
The CC Act price notification provisions apply only to 'notified
services' and 'declared persons'. The object of these provisions is to have
prices surveillance applied only to those markets where, in the view of the
minister, competitive pressures are not sufficient to achieve efficient prices
and protect consumers. Australia Post letter services, other than the business
letters service, have been declared to be a service covered by the CC Act
provisions and Australia Post to be a declared person in relation to those
The APC Act requires that, before the Board of Australia Post varies the
rate of the BPR, it must give the Minister written notice of the proposed
determination. The Minister may, within 30 days after receiving notice of a
proposed determination, give the Board written notice disapproving it. In
exercising his discretion on this, the Minister must consider:
Australia Post's obligation under the APC Act;
changes to the Consumer Price Index; and
any other matters the Minister considers appropriate.
Effective from 31 March 2014, the BPR was increased by 16.7 per cent. In
addition, Australia Post introduced, for the first time, a concession rate
stamp for eligible customers so that they have access to the original 60 cents
postage until 2017. Eligible customers will be limited to 50 concession
stamps per year.
Australia Post is able to charge freely for all other services it
Australia Post business structure
Currently, Australia Post's business structure consists of four business
Mail: the collection, processing and distribution of mail items,
digital communications and associated services. This includes all regulated
mail. Regulated mail comprising:
reserved letters—the collection, processing and distribution of
domestic letters defined as reserved by the APC Act; and
non-reserved mail – the processing and distribution of
non-reserved domestic letter services;
Parcel and Express: the processing and distribution of parcel and
express products, international mail services along with freight forwarding operations;
Retail: provision of postal products and services, agency
services, mail boxes and bags, financial services and other retail merchandise,
principally philatelic, stationery, telephony, greeting cards, gifts and
In June 2014, Australia Post has announced that it will restructure the
Australia Post Group around its two key brands: Australia Post and StarTrack.
Size and distribution of the Australia Post retail network
As at June 2013, the Australia Post Retail Network consisted of a total
of 4,429 retail outlets. The outlets reflect a variety of formats and ownership
type as follows:
Corporate Post Offices (CPOs) – owned and operated by Australia
Post and offer Australia Post's full suite of products and services;
Licensed Post Offices (LPOs) – owned and operated by a licensee
(not an Australia Post employee). LPOs are obliged to provide mandatory
services which are postage assessment, mail acceptance and delivery, and agency
banking and bill-pay. LPOs may be standalone – that is, provide only Australia
Post services – or run in conjunction with a host business. More than half of
all LPOs are run in conjunction and are often situated in smaller communities;
Franchised Post Offices – franchised post offices are a turnkey
operation with arrangements being entered into for 10 years. There are
currently 29 franchised post offices. Australia Post has announced that
the franchises will be converted to LPOs;
Community Postal Agencies (CPAs) – established in a host business
or other local premises and offer basic postal services only.
LPOs and CPAs provide the vast majority of services in rural and remote areas.
LPOs are the most prominent model in rural and remote areas, accounting for 64
per cent of all of these retail outlets as at 30 June 2013. Australia Post
noted that the majority of these LPOs (58 per cent) are run in conjunction with
a host business.
Table 2.1: Outlet types and
distribution, June 2013
Type of outlet
Total number of outlets
Total number of outlets
in metro area
Total number of outlets
in rural area
Total number of outlets
in remote area
Corporate Post Office
Licensed Post Office
(including 29 franchisees)
Community Postal Agencies
Source: Australia Post,
Submission 8, Tables 3.3 and 3.4, p. 21.
In 2012–13, the Australia Post network handled 4.58 million mail articles.
This included a total of 4.4 million articles posted in Australia for delivery
in Australia and overseas and 180,000 posted overseas for delivery in
Australia. These figures do not include articles that do not generate revenue,
such as official mail or redirected mail.
A more detailed analysis of Australia Post's mail service, trends in
mail use and the impact on Australia Post is provided in Chapter 3 of this
Role of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has three
specific responsibilities in the regulation of postal services:
assessing proposed price increases for Australia Post's notified
reserved services (assessing price notifications);
monitoring for the presence of cross subsidies between Australia
Post's reserved and non-reserved services; and
inquiring into certain disputes regarding the terms and
conditions under which Australia Post supplies bulk mail services.
The ACCC's role in assessing any variation to the BPR being sought by
Australia Post is discussed above.
The APC Act requires the ACCC to access whether Australia Post is
cross-subsidising its non-reserved services (generally, services it provides in
competition with others) with revenues from its reserved (statutory monopoly)
services. The ACCC commented that this would be a concern because Australia Post
could damage competition in competitive markets by the use of its legislated
Prior to 2011, Australia Post was required to provide the ACCC with
notification of proposals to increase charges for bulk (business) mail. Australia
Post is no longer required to submit price notifications to the ACCC for
changes in the prices of its business mail services. However, regulations made
under section 32B of the APC Act allow the ACCC to inquire into disputes about
the terms and conditions, including price of access to Australia Post's bulk
Franchising Code of Conduct
The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) and its associated
Franchising Code of Conduct apply to Australia Post. The CCA is administered by
the ACCC by:
preventing or halting anti-competitive behaviour so that all
businesses have the opportunity to survive and thrive, and to conduct their
business in a manner consistent with the interests of the Australian public,
the Australian consumer, and
protecting consumers against misleading and deceptive conduct.
The ACCC may take action against any corporation which it believes has
broken the law and has acted in an anti-competitive or unfair manner against
the interests of consumers or other businesses. The ACCC takes on cases on
behalf of small business when there are allegations from those businesses
concerning unconscionable conduct, misleading or deceptive conduct or breaches
of the Franchising Code.
The Department of Communications noted that, in his speech to the 2004
POAAL National Conference, the then ACCC Commissioner John Martin stated that
'given Australia Post's dominant position [with regard to market power] any
allegation of conduct by it which deliberately damages the competitive process
would be investigated by the ACCC'.
The ACCC may undertake franchising audits and has the power to obtain
from a corporation any information or document it is required to keep, to
generate or to publish under the relevant industry code.
Proposed changes to the Franchising Code of Conduct will allow the ACCC
to use its audit powers to obtain documents that the franchisor has relied upon
to support statements and claims made in their disclosure documents. In
addition, the changes will introduce a general obligation on franchisors and
franchisees to act in good faith during their dealings with each other.
The committee understands that individual LPOs have written to the ACCC
in regards to their own relationship with Australia Post. The Committee intends
to write to the ACCC requesting they examine the overall relationship between
LPOs and Australia Post and determine whether the allegations put forward by
some LPOs are appropriate to pursue under
the powers of the ACCC.
The importance of Australia Post and the Australia Post network
Postal services have been a vital part of Australian life since the
earliest days of the Sydney colony. Australia Post now has a presence across
Australia through an extensive network of corporate and privately owned post
offices. The services being provided by Australia Post have grown from
'traditional' letter deliveries to include parcel delivery services, many
government services and commercial services such as bill payments and banking
as well as new services that embrace the digital economy.
While many submitters noted the decline in letter volumes and the
increasing use of electronic communications, Australia Post is still seen as being
a central service provider for the business sector, the general community and
government. As Mr Stephen Giles stated:
Australia Post is an iconic and trusted brand with an
unrivalled business network. For more than 100 years Australia Post has been an
integral part of our Australian community, facilitating communication and
ensuring that important services are provided to all. The efficiency and
accuracy of delivery that the Australia Post network achieves is globally acknowledged,
and rendered even more remarkable given Australia's geographic and logistical
challenges and our relatively small population base.
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) and the Communications
Electrical Plumbing Union (NSW Postal and Communications Branch) (CEPU (NSW
Branch)) both pointed to the importance of Australia Post, with the CPSU
stating that Australia Post is 'an important public institution that provides a
variety of essential services to the Australian public every day'.
The CEPU (NSW Branch) added that Australia Post has stepped in to
provide trusted services when other institutions, for example, financial
institutions, have closed. It concluded that 'in many areas, Australia Post has
been the underpinning reason for the survival of local economies'.
Submitters noted that the Australia Post network is more important to
some groups in the community than others, including the elderly, the disabled
and those who do not have access to computers. The Communication Workers Union Postal
and Telecommunications Branch Victoria (CWU Victoria Branch)
While digital messaging has decreased the reliance on mail,
it must be realised that not everyone has access to a smart phone, computer and
internet. Many low income people cannot afford this access, or many people do
have the technical skills to keep their systems fully functioning. For some
types of messaging, physical mail is the preferred option. This is particularly
true of documents containing signatures or confidential information or that are
This was acknowledged by the Department of Communications which stated:
...replacing physical letters with an electronic service would
not yet be appropriate for all communities and businesses, in particular those
which do not have ready access to an electronic service that could act as a
While electronic services are increasingly an option for
many, there are consumers who prefer to use letters for other reasons, such as
security or familiarity (such as among the aged). Alongside this, the role of
Australia Post in Australian communities continues, but the importance of
physical letter services is diminishing.
The Post Office Agents Association Limited (POAAL) also commented on the
range of services provided by the Australia Post network to different groups in
Post offices serve the elderly, the frail, the disadvantaged,
the infirm, the unemployed and low-paid workers, as well as mums and dads and
local businesses. Many of these people living in country areas do not have
access to the internet nor can they afford it.
This view was supported by other submitters; for example, one licensee commented
on the great value of the services provided by LPO; not only postal services but
also bill paying facilities. They stated that this was 'particularly important
to elderly residents who are not confident with online or telephone payment
arrangements, who are given personal care and attention, and many of whom do
not have ready transport to larger centres'.
Another licensee also provided details of the assistance his office
provides to elderly and homeless customers:
May I explain that our LPO, as would many other small
community post offices help the community in so many ways that a lot of people
would not even realize. From helping the aged who cannot see. I have a couple
of people who have me fill in their cheques to pay their bills. I have elderly
residents in the caravan villages who are incapacitated and to whom I deliver
parcels because they cannot collect them from the post office. In many cases I
am the only person people can talk to when they are grieving the loss of their
partner and they are left all alone...A lot of people are unaware of the number
of homeless people that "reside outside" in our area whose only link
with authorities is our post office for everything from making a phone call for
them to contact Centrelink maybe the hospital when they have appointment.
It was also noted that the postal network is of great value to
government, through the provision of services:
Post offices are of inestimable value to government. They
meet the necessity for human interaction while providing a government service. It
is my belief that Australia Post provides an essential community service in
addition to it being another Government Business Entity. It is therefore very
important that this not be sacrificed to corporate expediency under the guise
of financial restraint.
Australia Post recognises its important role in the Australian
community. Mr Fahour has stated:
We and the licensed post offices play a vital community role,
which I know you all believe in...They are vitally important for the success of
Australia Post and to provide our community with the services it deserves. We
are committed to a strong and sustainable future and to working cooperatively
and effectively with all our partners—our valuable workforce, our very
important LPO network. We want to continue to serve the community
The committee recognises that in many areas across Australia, the local post
office provides not only postal services but also an invaluable amenity for
individuals and local business and for the community as a whole.
Importance of the Australia Post
network in regional and rural communities
Australia Post submitted that it has a 'demonstrable commitment' to
rural and remote Australia, and that over 5,500 people are directly employed by
Australia Post in rural areas.
Mr Fahour commented:
...Australia Post prides itself on being able to service the
community in places where very few institutions are left. Particularly in
regional and rural Australia there are not many options available to the
community, and Australia Post tends to be there to assist across a range of
In rural areas, as shown in table 2.1 above, of the total of 2,036 post
office outlets 10.9 per cent are Corporate Post Offices while the remainder are
LPOs or CPAs. In remote areas it is LPOs and CPAs which provide the vast
majority of postal services, with only four per cent of outlets being Corporate
Post Offices. It was noted that without the LPO network, Australia Post would
not be able to deliver its CSOs.
Many submitters emphasised the importance of the Australia Post network,
particularly LPOs and CPAs, in remote, rural and regional communities. A licensee
...I believe the community service obligations of Australia
Post have evolved to be far broader than the supply of a letter service as
defined in Section 27 of the Australian Postal Corporation Act. The services
provided by local post offices often tend to make the post office the face of
government. This is especially so in rural towns. The post office in these
communities is seen as an integral part of the social fabric of that society. Indeed,
from my observation, there is an expectation in the community that even if a
problem does not relate to the post office per se, someone in the post office
will know where to direct the enquiry.
Submitters also pointed to the lack of other services and problems with other
forms of communications in rural and remote areas. For example, the CWU Victoria
Branch further observed that 'Internet and even mobile phone coverage in
country Victoria is often patchy, and sometimes (especially during rain)
Submitters highlighted the central role of post offices in rural and
remote areas which were described by some submitters as the 'hub of the community',
particularly where other services had closed or in times of an emergency.
Ms Helen Bain commented further:
Since many banks, government services and offices have left
regional areas and centralized in cities, rural post offices have become
essential for the provision of banking, bill paying, financial transactions,
communications and general business services within small towns.
The Southern Grampians Shire Council added that post offices and LPOs in
smaller communities provide a focal point for a range of community services and
activities apart from the postal services that they provide directly. The
council went on to state:
...the importance [of LPOs] lies not just in the provision of
services proved at and by LPOs but also in the capacity of such facilities to
strengthen communities...LPOs act as community hubs. In many smaller communities
these are the main service centre, providing a focal point for a range of
community services and activities quite apart from the vital service they
The effect of the loss of 'institutions' such as LPOs on
small communities should not be underestimated.
It was also noted that the post office can play an important role in
times of emergency. One licensee submitted:
In our small community we are the last business still
operating. In the recent floods we were the focal point for all of the
community and the emergency services. The communities' very identity is now
reflected in the local Post Office as the last government service available to
The role of the regional LPO is to keep regional communities
connected to the rest of the country in the same way as their city relatives.
The Country Women's Association NSW (CWA NSW), while recognising the
costs of maintaining postal services in regional and remote areas, added that:
Even though the population served by remote mail services is
small, the maintenance of these services is vitally important—the people who
live in these areas should have access to "a" mail service. Couriers
do not operate in many regional and remote areas—the only alternative is to
send items using Australia Post—this illustrates the importance of Australia
Post in conducting a business or just getting something like Christmas presents
delivered on time.
The CWA NSW went on to comment about the role of LPOs and problems that
would be faced by communities where postal services were no longer available:
The LPO network is vitally important to communities in
regional and remote Australia – as well as handling mail, they are very often
the venue where people pay utility accounts, Shire Council rates and insurance,
or purchase money orders, reams of paper, envelopes and stamps. LPO owners earn
a commission for providing these services. LPOs operate in small towns and
villages, so they are usually the only business in the community where these services
are available. Sometimes the LPO offers a fax service as well. Often, it is up
to 100km to the next nearest Post Office or LPO.
In many small communities, older residents do not use
technology to pay bills or communicate, so the services offered by the LPO are
their lifeline. If LPOs did not exist, many services in regional and remote
areas would be very different, in particular mail services. An example: Rowena
has an even smaller Australia Post service than an LPO – a Community Postal
Agency (CPA). If it didn't exist, local mail would be sorted at a centre 80 kms
away or by the local roadside mail delivery contractor at his house or in a
shed. Posting a parcel would have to wait until someone went to town, to a PO with
a set of scales – 80 to 100kms away. What would happen to registered mail,
where a signature is necessary for delivery to occur? There wouldn't be a Post
Office to go to, to collect the parcel/letter. What about an oversize object
which wouldn't fit in the mailbox? Mail contractors will not leave such an item
on the ground beside the mailbox – where would one go to collect that sort of
Other submitters also pointed to the great distances that customers
would have to travel to access postal services if local post offices closed.
The Mooball and District Moovers commented on the impact of the loss of postal
services in its district and stated:
Village lifestyle functions around and depends on these local
services – it is often the only contact residents have to "the outside
Immediate and future impact on our communities in the event
of the loss of our Postal services would necessitate residents having to access
Postal services at Murwillumbah Post Office which is 20 kms north west of the
Mooball community. This would pose many problems for the elderly, ill and
incapacitated residents who do not drive or have access to personal transport
with the only daily transport available being the school bus. Not the best
The committee also received a number of submissions concerning the
potential closure of small LPOs including the Gulgong LPO. The Gulgong
Community Action Group provided the committee with a list of affects if the LPO
were to close including:
loss of productivity for businesses in the town as they would
have to travel to Mudgee (a one hour round trip) numerous times per week for
increased travel costs for local business which may make the
business no longer viable;
loss of business in the local community as people will do other
business while in Mudgee;
isolation of elderly and disabled members of the community; and
the community being forced to use online services taking away a
customer's right to choose the way they conduct their business in an area with
poor internet access.
In addition to concerns about the closure of post offices in rural and
regional areas, the CWU raised the issue of changes to rural and regional mail
services that would impact detrimentally on individuals and communities. The
CWU, for example, noted that Australia Post has recently announced cuts to
existing services in regional and rural NSW. The CWU stated that there is no
justification for reducing these services.
The CWU pointed to the importance of mail delivery services for the elderly in
regional areas and commented:
Ingham [in rural Queensland] has a large elderly population
who are accustomed to receiving physical mail and for whom the postie may be
the only person they see every day. As long as there is post, at least one
human being comes to your home with something for you...mail delivery has changed
from 10 days in a fortnight to 5 days a fortnight. This has caused a lot of concern
for the Ingham residents. There has been no public consultation.
The CWU also commented on the impact of postal employees. It stated that
'cutting the delivery schedule will overload workers on the days when mail is delivered,
backlog sorting centres and isolate regional/rural and remote communities
reliant on the mail for communication'.
It was also argued that moves by Australia Post to centralise its main
sorting centres will impact on next day delivery services. In Victoria,
Australia Post will move the majority of mail from regional Victoria to its
main sorting centre in Dandenong. The CWU concluded that 'not only are they
abandoning next day delivery for mail posted between Melbourne and Ballarat and
between Ballarat and adjoining country towns, but to make matters worse only
94% of mail will be delivered on the second day'.
Mr Fahour has indicated to the committee that Australia Post has a
strong commitment to the development and maintenance of the physical post
office network and stated 'we are absolutely committed to maintaining that
physical presence in communities everywhere so that we can continue our role of
providing trusted services that connect all Australians'.
Australia Post launched a rural sustainability package to support the viability
of rural outlets in June 2014. This is discussed in Chapter 6 of this report.
The committee recognises the expanded role played by post offices across
the country and the services that are provided to the community. Many elderly
Australians use the post office to pay bills and to access a range of
government services. People with disabilities and poor levels of literacy are
assisted by post office staff to use banking facilities, to fill out forms and
to access other services.
The committee was provided with numerous examples of the assistance provided
to members of the public through the postal network. The committee commends the
many Australia Post employees, licensees, franchisees and mail contractors who
provide services and assistance to members of the public far beyond their stated
In small remote, rural and regional communities, the postal network
provides essential services for communities. This is particularly the case where
other facilities are no longer available with the additional services provided
by post offices, such as banking and account payments, ensuring that community
life can continue. This is of great importance in areas where public transport
is limited, where major towns are some distance away and where internet
services are unreliable. The post office also provides invaluable services for
individuals who cannot afford computer access or have difficulty using
electronic means of communication.
The majority of the postal services in rural and remote Australia are
provided by LPOs and CPAs. The committee notes that Australia Post has
recognised the possible adverse impact for communities if LPOs were to close. In
response, Australia Post has developed the rural sustainability package. The contribution
of this package for the long-term sustainability of the rural and remote postal
network is examined later in this report.
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