SOUTH-WEST residents will lose next-day mail delivery to areas outside their local district from next month in an Australia Post cost-cutting move described by a key union as vandalism.
From March 3 deliveries from rural centres will take a day longer to reach their non-local destination. And a double whammy is looming with stamp prices likely to rise as much as 10 cents by April.
Australia Post says the move is vital following a $218.4 million loss last fincancial in the mail business sector on the back of a decline of 263 million mail articles (5.4 per cent) on the previous year.
Despite the cutback the postal giant is confident it can still meet government performance standards of second-business day delivery, but the Communications Workers’ Union says an excellent service will become sub-standard.
For example, mail posted in Warrnambool for Geelong will in future bypass the existing Geelong sorting centre and go to Dandenong and wait to be sorted before coming back to Geelong.
Australia Post said there would be no forced redundancies, but the union predicts seven casual jobs in Geelong will be lost and night sorters and delivery truck drivers will lose penalty rates.
Commerce Warrnambool’s new president Tony Herbert said it was a backward step to reduce postal delivery service times.
“We’ve relied on this iconic service for so many years — it’s something we take for granted,” Mr Herbert said.
“For regional Australia it’s another kick in the teeth.
“It’s disappointing they are going to do this considering the increase in revenue from small parcel deliveries.”
An Australia Post spokeswoman said the change had been flagged with workers and communities since last year and was necessary to improve efficiency.
“There are no surprises here,” she said.
“We’ve been exceeding government performance standards by delivering mail the next day, but that’s not cost-effective now so we are going back to a two-day delivery timeframe.
“However, for mail posted to the local district there will absolutely be no change in one-day delivery time.”
Union state secretary Joan Doyle said lobbying would continue to urge local politicians to seek an urgent review of the decision.
“Performance standards were set in 1998 — they need to be modernised.
“We are outraged by the move.
“Australia Post has watered down services for country Victoria — they are being vandalised.
“It will put country businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
“The chief executive earns $4.75 million a year which is the amount of money they want to save from cutting country Victoria’s services.
“There are 4.6 billion letters nationally sent every year, that’s 20 million a day, so it’s obvious mail delivery is still a big service.
“We are awaiting an ACCC decision on Australia Post’s request to increase stamp prices by up to 17 per cent.”