The question today before national commentators relates to Australia Post and in realistic terms, what is a fair charge for a postage stamp and where is the real profit gleaned.
The Post Master General Office (PMG) now Australia Post was established as a statutory body to provide a national service of communication and for decades since Federation it has provided a trustworthy service to the public.
Whenever someone stole the mail there was hell to play, indeed when the mail train was robbed (several times) every able bodied member of the constabulary was tasked to bring such to justice.
The mail was sacred. It was the Royal Mail. Every red postal box around the country had emboldened the Royal Mail. If you messed with the Royal Mail it was a very serious matter.
A postage stamp was a financial contract. That postage stamp was a contract between the citizen of Australia and the Government that the mail was sacrosanct and it would be delivered to its destination as Royal consignment.
When 41 years ago the Australasian Religious Press Association was established, the major component of that strategic move was to manage the PMG (Australia Post) so that religious publications might be consigned a specific category for postage and with a reduced rate.
This was a major consideration for the religious publication services as Denominational, Mission and other Christian newspapers, magazines, and whatever else could be posted without the task becoming overwhelming to the said coffers.
In the 1970's this was a huge consideration as so much Christian literature was sent in the mail – I can recall as a child the Billy Graham magazine Decision coming in the mail, along with The Vineyard (Israel ministry), The Herald of Hope (Second Coming), The Australian Baptist ....
Fast forward – today
It is a very different story today as electronic mail in all its forms along with social media outlets has taken the world by storm, and alas sending Australia Post to the wall (so to speak). These is the current situation -
- around 2000 Australia Post jobs will go
- wants to increase a letter stamp from .70 to $1
- more fundamental structural changes are required
- Letters delivered fallen by 1 billion since 2007-08
- Peaked at 4.6 billion in 2007-08
- Australis Post by law delivers mail 5 days a week
- There are 4,000 Post Offices – Delivery Centres
- Losses expected to be $500 million
- Post Offices around the world in the same boat
What is working
What has increased for Australia Post is the parcel delivery due to the purchases of items on e-bay, Amazon, ABC book shop, and similar such business outlets. But even with this huge new business it has not turned the Australia Post business around.
There have been some suggestions, on the lines of what has happened to the railways in Australia. Anything profitable was sold off to private railway companies and what was left was the mandatory services Governments of all colours were required to provide. Suburban networks and regional / rural passenger services.
So too Australia Post, becoming a target for such enterprise options. In my local post office in Tweed Heads the place is fast becoming a supermarket selling everything except milk and dairy products – sorry, they do sell chocolates.
I can buy Rehems of paper, ink jets, printers, scanners, cameras, books, DVD's, every time of colour paper, pens, stationary items, children's soft toys, calendars, gift cards and a whole lot more.
There is talk of selling off that component of the Australia Post Shop items who stocks such items in Australia Post "space". The parcel business is ripe for selling off. In fact all that Australia Post needs to be doing to meet the legal requirements are Christmas Cards and letters. Anything else can be part of a private business.
Although the consumer (that's me and you) still come to the Post Office counter, all that Australia Post is selling are those two items and their derivatives. Everything else at the Post Office is part of a private enterprise. It's not hard to do with IT, the electronics automatically separate what is what.
My wife Delma hand creates cards for a host of people – house bound, the sick, the seriously ill, the hospitalised, congratulations, wedding, engagement, party, thankyou cards ..... the list goes on and on.
I recently put in an order for 12 cards for specific Awards winners at the young writers awards presentation event. Our eldest daughter had an order for 40 thankyou cards after her breast cancer operations. I seem to think there are many Christian people who do this kind of thing and helps keep the Postie in a job.
When someone receives a hand crafted card made by the loving hands of my wife Delma, they know something very special has occurred. It is more than a card, it conveys a message. There is heart and soul in it. It has nothing to do with the cost of the stamp on the envelope.
Having said that, we along with many other Christian agencies and individual still use Australia Post as a vital mechanism for ministry delivery. Whenever Australia Post starts making noises we pay attention. Our politicians need to hear our voice, loud and clear. It is 'our' Australia Post.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html