6 April, 2023
Future of essential hub under discussion
That one central place for banking, parcel pick-up and, sometimes even a special gift - post offices around Australia, are an essential hub of community activity.
For Gilgandra as with other towns, it’s
the friendly faces that make the experience special, and without it, many locals
believe our town would be the poorer.
A discussion paper has recently been launched however, by the Australian Government, to undertake community consultation on the modernisation of postal services, with loyal local customers being encouraged to have their say.
While revenue from Australia’s regional post offices have grown by 19 per cent in the past decade, according to the recently released discussion paper, this isn’t the case across the nation.
The paper discusses the fact that declining post office transactions are threatening the long-term viability of this critical national infrastructure.
While there has been an 18 per cent increase in the number of people collect- ing items at post offices from 2013–2014 to 2021–2022, there has been a very real decline in retail transactions in metropoli- tan areas, falling 40 per cent during that same time.
“It’s quite scary,” Gilgandra Post Office co-owner, Hayden Whiteman, said.
“What’s most worrying, is that they speak about the decline in over-the-counter transactions.
“Things like banking, identity services, and general retail purchases, over the counter, which we aren’t seeing here, he added.
Talk of reviewing the postal system and cutting letter delivery down to two or three times a week, has been a hot topic in
the media, and Mr Whiteman thinks this is the perfect time for locals to consider their opinions.
“The post office provides an essential service, and there would be a number of services that, without the post office, Dubbo would be your next closest place to get it done.”
“Some days there aren’t huge volumes of letters, but certainly in regional areas, letters are more prevalent than in metro,” Mr Whiteman said.
The discussion paper, also mentions Australia’s low postage rate to send let- ters, which is currently 86 cents below the average world price for the same service.
When considered against most inter- national competitors, Australia Post’s Basic Postage Rate of $1.20 falls short with the paper saying that an increase in this price may help the decline in revenue for Australia Post.
“I can’t understand why it’s gotten to declining this far, for them to increase the cost to send a letter,” Mr Whiteman said.
“I mean, what does $1.20 get you? You can’t even buy a loaf of bread, but you expect that same price, to get a letter between Gil and Dubbo to a letter between Gil and Perth, which has multi- ple hands to get there.”
Australia Post’s Group chief executive officer and managing director, Paul Graham said that a discussion about mod- ernising postal services needs to happen, as the losses to the businesses are becom- ing dire.
“It is clear the status quo for Australia Post is no longer an option,” he said.
“The business is on a path towards sig- nificant losses that, without change, will have to be covered by the Australian tax- payer, and that is money that could be bet- ter spent on schools, hospitals and roads,” Mr Graham concluded.