Huge reforms to enable Australia Post to boost productivity, increase its focus on parcels, and improve long-term financial sustainability have been announced that spell the end of the daily postie.
The government says changing consumer needs and growing digitisation means Australia Post needs to modernise to keep pace with what Australians need and expect from their postal service. Letter volumes have reduced by two thirds since their peak in 2008, while parcel volumes have boomed.
Australia Post delivered around half a billion parcels in 2022-23 and the average Australian household now receives just over two addressed letters per week.
The proposed changes to the delivery standards include:
- Letter delivery frequency will be reduced to every second business day for 98 per cent of locations, whilst parcels will still be delivered daily;
- To reflect the new delivery frequency, Australia Post will have an extra day to deliver regular letters across Australia; and
- Australia Post can change the way it manages priority mail, which now accounts for around 8 per cent of addressed letters, so it can deliver services at a more commercial rate and work with customers to set appropriate terms and conditions.
The current geographic classification for Australia Post retail outlets will also be updated to reflect the modern Australian Statistical Standards Geography Standard Remoteness Areas, rather than the 1991 Census currently used. This is expected to have the net effect of reclassifying approximately 70 outlets to Remoteness Areas other than ‘Major Cities’. This will not impact the services provided at these outlets or the prescribed minimum numbers of post offices that Australia Post must retain, including in regional Australia.
Separate to the performance regulations, the Government will also work with Australia Post to develop a pricing oversight mechanism that will give Australia Post and its customers more certainty over a longer-term price path for basic postage. The ACCC is currently assessing Australia Post’s draft notification to increase the basic postage rate from $1.20 to $1.50 in early 2024. Prices for concession card holders will remain at 60 cents, and the price of Christmas stamps will remain unchanged at 65 cents.
Australia Post’s modernisation plans also include adding even more parcel posting and collection places that are open at more convenient times – such as parcel lockers.
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts will consult on the amended delivery standards regulations early in 2024 before their implementation next year.
Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP says Australia Post has to adapt to changing demands.
“Australia Post can’t stand still. Consumer and small business demands are changing, and Australia Post also needs to adapt.
“These new processes will mean Australia Post continues to deliver the high-quality letter service many Australians rely on, while also growing its booming parcel business for the benefit of consumers, small businesses and its hardworking staff.
“Australia Post belongs to all Australians. Modernising Australia Post will put it on a surer footing so it can deliver the essential community services Australians need – including those in rural, regional and remote areas”.