Labor Senators' Additional Comments
Labor Senators are disappointed but not surprised to submit Additional
Comments on this inquiry into Australia Post.
Labor Senators are not dissenting from the entire report, rather these
Additional Comments focus on one part of Chapter 5; the assertion that 'the
postal network provides an opportunity for government to deliver services more
efficiently'. (emphasis added)
Labor Senators note that the primary target for outsourcing of
government services to Australia Post are the over-the-counter processing
functions performed by the Department of Human Services.
Nowhere in the preceding paragraphs of the Majority Report, or in
evidence presented to this Committee both throughout this inquiry and at
Estimates, was evidence provided to back up this assertion.
Rather, the assertion is simply another attempt by the Liberal Party to
promote its ideological belief that the outsourcing of government services
In evidence to the Senate's Community Affairs Committee's November 2013
Estimates, the Department of Human Services outlined the varied functions of
officers in face-to-face interactions with customers.
The Department of Human Services
is tasked with delivering social, health and other services on behalf of the
Australian Government to individuals, families, communities, businesses and
Service Officers in the
face-to-face environment engage with and support customers from shopfronts
located across Australia in metropolitan, regional and remote communities.
Day-to-day functions in the
face-to-face environment include:
customers by providing services across a range of payments, programs and
promote, demonstrate and assist customers to use the department’s digital and
phone self-managed services.
customers on legislation, policy, procedures, payments and services
administered by the department.
customer needs, requirements, entitlements and obligations.
managed and intensive services, focusing on customers with complex needs. This
may include activities such as developing individual support plans or assisting
people to acquire vocational skills to maximise training and employment
appropriate, refer customers to relevant government and community services.
Liaise with local community service providers and other government agencies to
make referrals and assist with brokering solutions for people with complex
service recovery in line with relevant service standards for customer
feedback/complaints and escalate as appropriate.
As highlighted in the Majority Report, Australia Post's capability to
deliver trusted services was canvassed at the February 2014 Additional
Estimates. Mr Fahour was directly asked if Australia Post could perform a
number of the face-to-face functions outlined above and responded that he did
not know and would take the questions on notice. In the subsequent answers to
the questions on notice, Australia Post did not directly answer the questions
Labor Senators are concerned that the Government is irresponsibly
seeking to use the prospect of increased remuneration and post office visits
from additional trusted services as a financial lifeline for Licensed Post Offices.
We note that all the submitters who support the outsourcing of services
provided by Centrelink and Medicare to Australia Post rely on the prospect of
additional revenue for Australia Post and LPO operators as justification for
the measure. Providing additional revenue for the private operators of LPOs and
Australia Post corporate outlets is not an object of any of the legislation
that governs the provision of services by the Department of Human Services. As
outlined in the Majority Report, many proprietors of LPOs are battling to keep
afloat and, of course, would welcome the additional remuneration. The
face-to-face functions performed by DHS officers are complex and very different
from the 'high-volume transactions' that Mr Fahour asserts are Australia Post's
Evidence was included in the Majority Report from the Community and
Public Sector Union (CPSU) warning that outsourcing DHS functions is 'likely to
result in an overall reduction in the quality of service delivery on behalf of DHS,
an organisation many Australians rely on at various points of their lives'. The
CPSU also stated that 'any savings from outsourcing functions is unlikely to
offset the costs of training Australia Post staff.'
Labor Senators believe that the advice from the CPSU and the lack of
certainty from Australia Post demonstrate that the assertion that outsourcing
will increase efficiency in government service delivery is based on ideology
The Government not outsource any functions of the
Department of Human Services to Australia Post.
|Senator Anne Urquhart
the Hon Doug Cameron
Shadow Minister for
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