At the start of my contribution I'd like to say Merry Christmas to everyone. I updated the House at the end of October on the changes to Australia Post's delivery model and the impact this was having on my constituents. Since that time, I've been contacted by many more constituents—by those complaining about deliveries and also by employees of Australia Post who are gravely concerned about what is happening to their organisation. At the outset, I want to make it clear that this contribution is in no way an attack on the employees of Australia Post, and I again place on record my admiration for their work. This is no reflection upon them but on their management and the impact that their changes are having on the health and welfare of their employees and the service to my community.
The first point I want to make is that I'm very concerned about the health and welfare of workers at Australia Post. I particularly thank those who have approached me over the past few weeks to relay their concerns. They are so worried about their current situation that they asked to remain anonymous—and, of course, I will respect this. The news they relayed to me was not good. There is more mail and fewer staff, and employee hours and overtime have been cut. I'm sure that management will say that this is not true, but I believe what the constituents have told me directly to my face rather than what faceless executives in Melbourne have said on the public record. One worker has told me, 'We just want to go back to providing the public with the service we used to,'—and I have heard shocking cases of changed practices, inefficient practices, that mean that mail is not being delivered and is being returned to the depot. It's just a failing, failing service.
I'm proud to represent the sixth-oldest electorate in Australia. One retiree has contacted me about his experience with express post. His express letter took six days to arrive from Sydney. This is a two-hour drive from my electorate. The constituent wrote: 'A lot of elderly people don't know how to use email and rely on letters to communicate with family and friends. How does Australia Post justify their huge salaries? I would love a $5,000 watch. We could use it to afford living and medical expenses.' One young mother, Alex, from Garden Suburb, has experienced problems with deliveries. She was at home all day when her package was supposed to be delivered, yet she received a text message that night telling her that, as she had not been home, she needed to go to the post office in the next suburb to collect it. These are examples that clearly show that the reduction in services is impacting the people I represent in this place.
Australia Post is a much-loved and relied upon institution. Members don't like having to make contributions like this one. I'd certainly prefer to be focusing on the many positives from Shortland. But, when constituents come to me stressed and concerned about their work, it is my job to let them know that I hear them and that I will take this fight up for them.