Australia Post boss warns change is needed to survive

Chief executive Paul Graham has delivered a frank assessment of Australia Post's financial situation.

Chief executive Paul Graham has delivered a frank assessment of Australia Post's financial situation. Photo: AAP

The laws governing Australia Post must change for there to be any hope the struggling service can survive.

Chief executive Paul Graham delivered a frank assessment of the organisation’s grim financial situation during a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia, in Melbourne on Thursday.

“The Australian community must understand that without change to their national postal service, its long-term viability is at risk,” he said.

The organisation previously announced it would post a financial loss this year, after a $189 million loss in only six months.

Mr Graham also confirmed reports 400 jobs would go by the end of the financial year.

“We want to keep Australia Post strong for all Australians and especially communities in rural and regional Australia, but this is only possible if we are financially sustainable,” he added.

The service is governed by the 1989 Australian Postal Corporation Act but Mr Graham argued the performance standards it had to abide by were “no longer fit for purpose”.

“[It was] legislated before the internet boom and the creation of smart phones, when letters were the dominant form of communication, online shopping was yet to take hold and digital service-provision largely did not exist,” Mr Graham said.

Those performance standards include rules around frequency of delivery, speed, accessibility of post offices or boxes and methods of determining the level of mail delivery in a particular area.

The address came on the same day as public consultation for a review into the future of the postal service closed.

“The status quo is no longer an option for our business,” Mr Graham added.

“The consultation process that closes tonight will help us develop the blueprint for change. But there is no question we must change.”

Mr Graham said the organisation was at a crossroad, with mail volumes dropping 66 per cent since the global financial crisis.

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

“There may be a time later this year when parliamentarians are asked to consider changes to Australia Post to support the viability of the business. My simple request is to put the national interest first.”

The average household receives fewer than two letters a week and that is expected to halve within the next five years.

There are more than 4000 post offices across Australia and Mr Graham said there are more than 65,000 direct or indirect employees involved with the business.


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