30 April 2023

Act now to save Australia Post, CEO pleads

| Chris Johnson
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Australia Post trikes

Inside the Australia Post warehouse in Mitchell. Photo: James Coleman.

Letters and postage stamps could soon be a thing of the past, with traditional mail usage declining and drastic measures being considered to save the viability of Australia Post.

That was the cut-through message delivered by Australia Post CEO Paul Graham on 27 April.

His plea for government intervention came via a speech to an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia (AmCham) event in Melbourne.

It was delivered shortly before consultation closed on a discussion paper for the government business enterprise’s future.

Mr Graham said while the consultation will help to inform decisions over what measures are needed to save Australia Post, holding continual reviews into the postal service was not the answer.

“There have been more than 11 reviews of Australia Post over the past 10 years,” he said. “We do not need any more to repeat the same fundamental message – that the status quo is no longer an option for our business.

“What we need is the commitment and goodwill from the parliament to make the changes necessary to deliver a sustainable future.

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Mr Graham said that parliamentarians may be asked later this year to consider changes to Australia Post to ensure the business remains viable, but implored them to “put the national interest first”.

Postal services are very much at risk, he said, as is the long-term viability of the organisation tasked with delivering them.

Australia Post’s letters business is expected to record a loss this year, after making a loss of $189 million in the first half of the financial year. However, Mr Graham says the Australian community is not aware of the condition of its national postal service.

“Our extensive research shows that just one in 10 Australians are aware that we are no longer profitable.

“It’s a stark message but the Australian community must understand that without change to their national postal service, its long-term viability is at risk.”

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Traditional mail volume has changed significantly in recent years, with varying alternative delivery methods being increasingly embraced by the public.

Couriers, parcel lockers and electronic communication have shrunk household mail usage.

The CEO said it had all added up to a declining profitability for Australia Post.

“Ever since the global financial crisis our traditional business model has been eroding and the deterioration in our outlook is gathering pace,” Mr Graham said.

“Until the year 2000, mail volumes tracked the economy, growing at around the same rate as gross domestic product, but after Y2K mail volumes began to flatline.

“Then, during the GFC, mail volumes fell by 5 per cent and they have been falling ever since.”

Since 2007-08 mail volumes have fallen by 66 per cent, he said, and per-household mail volumes are expected to halve in the next five years.

Australia Post is spending more money than ever before to deliver fewer letters than ever before.

The average household today receives fewer than two letters per week.

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Mr Graham insisted that legislative changes are necessary to keep Australia Post in line with changing habits and circumstances.

“The imperative for change is clear. We are governed by the 1989 Australian Postal Corporation Act,” he said.

“An instrument legislated before the internet boom and the creation of smartphones, when letters were the dominant form of communication, online shopping was yet to take hold and digital service provision largely did not exist.

“Performance standards issued under the Act are no longer fit for purpose to Australia Post as an enterprise or to the customers and communities we serve every day.

“Australia Post is owned by the Australian taxpayer, but we are not financed by taxpayers, we are entirely self-funded. We’re proud to be a self-funded public enterprise and we want to remain that way.

“We want to keep delivering essential public services to Australian communities and businesses without taking a penny from consolidated revenue. That is funding that should go to schools and hospitals, not Australia Post.”

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Lately Australia Post has had to act as the local bank for many people, because the banks have closed so many branches. Maybe the banks should pay more for outsourcing their customer service to the Post Office. The Commonwealth Bank posted record profits last year, they can afford it.

As an ancient Telstra customer I still get bills delivered by post, however I have noticed that every time I open a new Telstra account, I’m forced to pay a $2 fee if I want a bill mailed out to me, and another surcharge if I pay it at Australia post, rather than online. There’s half our problem…. really Telstra are stamps $2. Honestly I don’t understand why we are charged extra to simply to go to the post office to pay a bill…give me the Cartier

HiddenDragon8:53 pm 02 May 23

With the big four banks relentlessly closing branches and cutting services in surviving branches, Australia Post could be used as a vehicle for creating something along these lines –


This could be a highly valued service in communities which have no remaining bank branches and in culturally diverse communities where (as recent research has found) there is considerable scepticism about the push from the big four banks to do away with cash.

At the end of May I paid $148 for my PO Box. Since then I have received 3 letters! Surely, when you consider that I pay nearly $3/week in addition to postage charges paid by the sender, that’s not a bad return?

It’s time to cancel my PO Box service.

Well, good heavens. Put up the price of letters and then be very surprised when less letters are sent because people can’t afford it. Whilst email rules for general correspondence for most people, everyone prefers actual cards for birthdays, Christmas and other special events. AusPost is killing those as well in making it unaffordable to send them.

Tom Worthington9:29 am 02 May 23

I would be happy with a letter delivery once a week. Australia Post could drop the mail off while delivering parcels, which is profitable.

Suzanne Blake2:44 pm 01 May 23

Australia Post have increased prices on stamps 592% since 2007. That 25 times the CPI. They have increased parcels / satchels by 90% in the same period. So this had meant couriers have put their prices up by a similar amount and the Australia consumer and SMEs are the lovers. Every increase was signed off by the complicit ACCC who fail Australian every day. The ACCC has done nothing on petrol, insurance, health insurance you name it and they have lost 95% of the legal actions they take.

No one No one4:23 pm 01 May 23

I totally agree with you. The ACCC is a waste of time get rid of them. The CEO of Australia Post should be sacked because of his comments. Aus Post is one entity NOT a letter delivery company and a parcel delivery company. Reporting a lost on one does not tell the real story that Aus Post made a record profit because of the rising number of on line parcel deliveries. The government must step in and take action sack the execs and stop increasing prices on an essential service.

Capital Retro8:30 pm 01 May 23

Gee, my stamp collection actually lost value in that same period.

Also, Australia Post also deliver advertising and junk mail, the last category includes the monthly “Our CBR” propaganda sheet.

Cut down on Cartier watches for a start

Brad Harrison10:10 am 01 May 23

I work as a postie. Why are the parcels we deliver each day by the hundreds, (each postie) never mentioned. Why is this profitable side of the business never included as it is a major shareholder of our job description. Is this not part of our revenue top? Also the cost blowout of purchasing the Ev trikes and requiring more Evs and labour to cover the same territory as before, not to mention slower delivery would probably significantly add to the delivery costs?
There are lots of inefficiencies and poorly managed aspects of this business, as there have been for years but it seems as though nothing effective ever really seems to gain traction. There is allot of talk in HQ from my experience regarding Vic and NSW but I don’t think the vision from the ivory tower of Melbourne is that good because there is a hemorige of major revenue wastage occuring where I am due to lack of investment and consideration to our State managers from the hierarchy. I mean logistic stupidity regarding moving freight around unnecessarily due to poor future planning and investment into effective facility space and placement.
The workers are working harder yet being made out to be twiddling our thumbs. Sounds like the inefficiency is further up the line to me.

Jenny Graves4:00 pm 01 May 23

The parcels aren’t mentioned because the freight and mail sides of the business were separated some years ago. Yes, the freight side is very profitable and it should be subsidising the mail side. Instead, we are forced to pay higher postage costs to send a letter that can take a week to go across town! My sister-in-law lives in Nowra. If she posts a letter addressed to someone who lives in Nowra, it’s sent to Sydney for sorting and then comes back. What a waste of resources, petrol and time! And they wonder why people are using different means of communicating? Seriously??

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