Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters, today called on the Minister for Communications, Malcom Turnbull, to rule out massive jobs losses and post office closures in Bendigo and Central Victoria.
"In Parliament yesterday Malcolm Turnbull proposed changes to Australia Post which would not only see the price of stamps skyrocket, but also see delivery times slow right down.”
Ms Chesters said she was concerned to hear the Minister was considering reforms to Australia Post which would mean the end of everyday delivery of standard mail.
“Turnbull said at least two changes being considered were a 'two speed' mail system; $1 stamps for the slower speed of delivery, and who-knows-what for faster or next-day delivery.
"I almost fell of my chair. This shocking announcement means Australians will be paying significantly more for a big reduction in service.”
Ms Chesters urged Australia Post and Minister Malcolm Turnbull to rule out using their reform package as an excuse to:
shut down post offices;
sack thousands of Australia Post workers;
cut service levels to rural and regional Australia; or
massively increase the price of stamps.
“I am seriously concerned about how these proposed changes will impact regional mail services,” she said.
Ms Chesters said the changes have the potential to seriously disadvantage Bendigo families, businesses and the economy.
“The change from next-day delivery to two-to-three day delivery for non-local mail has already affected local businesses and households in the Bendigo electorate. In some areas of central Victoria, mail is still one of the principal ways of communicating.
“Massively increasing the stamp price will hurt local, small businesses. It’s another surprise attack on small businesses by the Liberal Government.
“I’m calling on Minister Turnbull to rule out further job losses in Bendigo and Central Victoria,” she said.
Federal Labor has committed to consider the details of the reform package but there are four key areas that Labor is worried about:
Jobs – Australia Post employs more than 30,000 Australians. It is essential that Australian Post looks after their people first. This must include retraining, redeployment and voluntary redundancies as a last resort. Labor will not support anything that results in forced redundancies at Australia Post.
The impact on rural and regional Australia – Australia Post is the lifeblood of rural and regional communities across Australia. Mail is already delivered more slowly in rural and regional Australia than it is in the cities. Labor is concerned that this will make it even worse.
Price rises – whilst we understand the need to reform in order to address the downturn in letter volumes, particular attention needs to be paid to the impact of price rises on people who are on low incomes, including those who don’t have concession cards. It is also vital to consider the impact that price rises will have on small businesses that rely heavily on Australia Post to communicate with their customers and pay suppliers.
Post offices - Labor will not support this reform package being used as an excuse to shut down post offices. Malcolm Turnbull knows how post office closures hurt local communities, because he held rallies to stop them in his electorate. If he can stand up for post offices in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney he should stand up for post offices right across Australia.
Ms Chesters said a reliable postal service is a vital part of Bendigo’s infrastructure and the Minister must rule out mass sackings and post office closures now.
“Right now, Bendigo is booming. We have economic growth. It is a vibrant region with a proud history and an exciting future.
“However, this growth will be under threat if we continue to lose core services. I put Australia Post in the category of core services.”