October 29, 2020

MARK RORKE, HOST: In a week where Australia Post has kind of been in the front of the newspapers for a little while for all of the wrong reasons, sadly we are going to be talking about them in that vein again. We’re going to be doing that with Pat Conroy, Member for Shortland with many, many people contacting his office to say, ‘look the amount of wait we have to have for mail in the post seems to be extravagant’.
Pat, thank you so much for your time again on this one. In a week where the top dog has stood down over $20,000 worth of watches given out, hotel stays of $35,000 and an employment of an events coordinator $150,000, should it be right that in light of all of that, we should be waiting 140 days for a letter?
PAT CONROY, MEMBER FOR SHORTLAND: No it shouldn’t. It absolutely points to an organisation that is failing in its basic requirement to provide services to every Australian. I was shocked when my office was contacted by constituents including one who waited 140 days for the delivery of a letter. Or even in my case – I got a sympathy card organised from Anthony Albanese to one of my constituents and it took two months to get that card sent from Sydney to Belmont. It’s just an absolute disgrace.
RORKE: Now I know that I’ve been fitter at other times, but I reckon I could walk that card there in less time than that.
CONROY: I guarantee a leisurely stroll for two months would get the card there first.
RORKE: And this is pretty sad that we are hearing this. I know that there have been, you know, shall we say reductions in the daily letter delivery which, you know, I get that that’s a thing now, but I tell you what the letters have kind of been replaced by parcels really. So there’s still a great use for this great iconic Australian company. I mean stuff gets delivered all of the time and I think that waits of that long, we get a little bit uncomfortable with it and rightly so.
CONROY: Oh absolutely, and the revenue from parcels grew by over $700 million last year for Australia Post, and they delivered a pretty significant profit to the Government last year. So this is not a case of a Government company on its knees. They spent $60 million on bonuses to their top executives. That’s $24,000 each which is the equivalent of the old aged pension. So this is an organisation that’s not doing it tough, but at the same time it’s failing in those basic services.
I had many constituents really angry when they got told that they were dropping their delivery rate to once every two days, and then to add on top of that, even then they still have to wait long times to get actual letters delivered. It’s just unbelievable in a rich, developed nation like Australia.
RORKE: And here’s the thing too Pat, I mean for the people who still use Australia Post primarily for letters, primarily for bills. But for the rest of us – I mean I know all of my bills now come in an email so I can promptly ignore them online - but we are talking predominately senior Australians who still correspond quite a lot with good old fashioned letter writing and all of their bills come by the mail. So if we have to now factor in an extra delay by the time you get the water bill, by the time you get the council rates, whatever, you get them later than normal and go ‘oh my goodness I’ve now only got, you know, five seconds to get my pension which is now not going to come until next week’, and then people have a panic about not actually paying their bills on time.
CONROY: It has this huge flow on. I represent the seat of Shortland which is Lake Macquarie and northern Central Coast. It is the sixth oldest electorate by age in the country, and lots of people still rely on the post and want to rely on the post. I occasionally get hecklers saying ‘well why are you pushing these issues when everything is done online?’ Well it’s not done online for everyone. A lot of people still want to be able to send and receive things by the post and they should have that right.
Everyone pays their taxes. This is a Government-owned business entity. They should provide basic services, and they’re just focused on the wrong things. Instead of giving $60 million worth of bonuses to their senior executives, the Board - which is full of ex-Liberal MPs – should get their act together and make sure they provide the basic services that every Australian has the right to expect.
RORKE: To be fair also Pat when I was in rolls where I was paid bonuses, I actually had to make sure I ticked all of the boxes before they came through but that’s a whole other story. Is there a lot of appetite – I know there is at the moment when we are looking at this stuff at the top with the watches and the hotel stays and all of that, and I get that that’s very easy to pick off – but is there an appetite at the governmental level to dig a little deeper and try to iron out some of these other creases that affect so many of us?
CONROY: Well I’m worried the Government will just try and use the distraction of the four Cartier watches to say ‘well it’s all the fault of the CEO and we don’t have to dig any deeper’, because that’s obviously a very juicy, appealing story that gets a lot of attention. But the cancer that runs through Australia Post is a lot deeper than that as I said - these $60 million of bonuses to these executives, the fact that these services aren’t being provided – so we need the Board to take some responsibility. And as I said, both sides of politics have done this in the past, but when you look at the Board of Australia Post, the majority of it are ex-Liberal Party politicians. Now I question their expertise and I question their process, and until we get this right, Australians are going to suffer these poor services.
So everyone should be angry about the watches, but they should be equally angry about the $60 million worth of bonuses and letters taking 140 days to be delivered.
RORKE: Alright well hopefully they can dig a little bit deeper. Like I said, the watches and the hotel stuff, that’s very easy to look at that, and we’ve all dined out on that story, so hopefully the stuff that actually matters for all of us can be looked at as well.
CONROY: Yeah Mark, sorry, can I quickly urge any of your listeners in the seat of Shortland – so Lake Macquarie and northern Central Coast – to contact my office if they’ve got examples of poor service? Because we are trying to collect a dossier to take to Australia Post, so any of your listeners who have had really long delays in letters or other unsatisfactory services, can they please give my office a call.
RORKE: Alright, well hopefully there won’t be too many who take you up on that – not because they can’t be bothered, but because there aren’t that many stories. Thank you Pat Conroy, Member for Shortland for your time mate. Appreciate it.
CONROY: Thank you, have a good morning.