Trevor Veale

Aus Post slammed for neglecting licensees

Four Queensland LNP Senators have called on Australia Post to ensure the viability of privately owned post offices across rural and regional Australia.

A Senate Inquiry report released yesterday found Australia Post's lack of consultation with its 3000 privately owned post offices was leading to "growing divide" that threatened their long term viability.

The Environment and Communications Legislation Senate Committee concluded that the minister for communications Malcolm Turnbull should commission an independent audit of the functions of privately-owned post offices (Licensed Post Offices) and that Australia Post should be required to renegotiate the terms and conditions of some agreements to ensure they are fair and equitable.

Senators Barry O'Sullivan, Ian MacDonald, James McGrath and Matt Canavan want Australia Post to follow through with the recommendations.

Senator O'Sullivan said some payments to privately owned post offices had not kept up with the consumer price index for the past two decades.

"This is a great deal of money that privately owned post offices have missed out on. These are matters that make the difference between being profitable and unviable. They need to be examined through an independent audit process," he said.

"Post offices stand alongside hospitals and schools as essential services for rural and regional communities."

Senator MacDonald said many Licensed Post Office operators had dedicated their life savings to the business.

"My primary concern is for continuation of services across Northern Australia particularly in the rural and remote areas that are more reliant on postal services," he said.

"I know many small business people who put their life savings into LPO businesses in country areas."

Senator McGrath said he is tired of big businesses, including statutory organisations, putting needs of small communities aside in the name of cost saving.  

 "Australia Post realises that its outlets provide more than a postal service to smaller communities - they also provide a social function, an avenue to maintain better contact with distant friends and retailers and service providers, and it is vital that this is recognised and valued and that it remains."

Senator Matt Cananvan, whose office is located in Rockhampton in Central Queensland, said economic resilience could not come at the expense of community liveability.

"Post Offices are vital communal hubs in rural and regional areas throughout Central Queensland and the rest of the Australia, and the Senate committee recognises that we must do everything in our power to prevent their demise," he said.

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