$51.4m boost to rural and regional post agencies
AUSTRALIA Post is delivering a $51.4 million lifeline to more than 970 rural and regional licensees and agents.
But industry lobby group the Post Office Agents Association Limited says more needs to be done to keep the small businesses afloat.
The government-owned postal service will give 478 of its licensees an extra $10,000 over 12 months to cope with technology-driven downturns in business.
The extra money will lift their guaranteed annual income to $30,000 a year from July 1, this year (2015).
A minimum annual payment of $7500 will be introduced for 495 community postal agencies that offer a limited range of Australia Post services.
"We've been working closely with our licensees to identify how to best support them in the face of digitisation, a significant challenge facing our traditional letters business," Australia Post managing director Ahmed Fahour said.
"The new small post office support plan will immediately strengthen the future sustainability of 478 licensed post offices and 495 community postal agencies across rural and remote Australia.
"We have also more than doubled parcel handling payments - with the street-carded parcel rate increasing from 60 cents to $1.60."
Mr Fahour said the sustainability of these payments relied on a reformed letters service.
"We've been clear that we will be seeking an increase to the current basic postage rate of 70c to $1, to better recover the costs of delivery.
"This increase would flow directly to the LPO network contributing $75 million of the $125 million in annualised payments."
POAAL director Bob Chizzoniti said a long-term strategy for postal services in the bush was lacking.
"The minimum payment allowance gives licensees some security in areas that can be subject to factors such as drought and fluctuating population," Mr Chizzoniti said.
"We still don't know what Australia Post's plans are for provision of postal services in rural Australia.
"What will a post office look like in years to come? How will people in rural and remote Australia access mail, parcels, banking and other Australia Post services?
"What role will technology and automation play in all this?
"There are structural issues that must be addressed."
Australia Post will also increase the payment for handling undelivered parcels.
Review reveals 'changing face of licensed post offices'
AUSTRALIA Post is responding to recommendations put forward by a licensee price structure review.
The review, by Partners in Performance, examined the effort needed to complete transactions to determine whether the current payments were fair, including the total cost incurred by licensees to run their businesses; and how revenue compared to expenses at a store level.
Australia Post said it would ensure licensees shared in revenue when MyPost account customers completed a transaction online and identified their local post office.
AusPost managing director Ahmed Fahour said the payment would be finalised over the coming months.
"The survey concluded that for most transactions, licensees are being remunerated appropriately, however we recognise there are some areas where we can support our operators better," Mr Fahour said.
"This includes increased payments for street carded parcels, where the work required to administer this service exceeds current payments.
"The findings of the PiP study show the complex nature of the challenges facing our licensed post offices.
"The study also showed the need for LPOs to have diverse revenue streams in light of declining mail volumes."
- 478 rural and regional licensees will get an extra $10,000 a year from July 1.
- This will boost their guaranteed annual income to $30,000.
- 495 community postal agencies will get a minimum annual payment of $7500.
- Parcel handling payments for operators will jump from 60 cents to $1.60.
- If regulatory reform goes ahead, the basic stamp price will rise from 70c to $1.
- A dual-speed letter service (with fast and slow delivery) is also in the pipeline.
Source: Australia Post.