The Guardian April 4, 2001

New plan to undermine postal service

The main postal union, the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union 
(CEPU), says the announcement by the Federal Government that it is 
abandoning its deregulation of Australia Post is a smokescreen for plans to 
further undermine Australia's postal service.

The union says it is no surprise that the government has given up on its 
original deregulation  which would have removed Australia Post's monopoly 
from all but the standard 45 cent letter service  because it had no 
community support and had been rejected by an all-party Senate Committee.

The Government has drawn up a new plan following lobbying by the Ausdoc 
corporation, a business document exchange company which has expanded into 
mail delivery between businesses.

It has been revealed that there is new and secretive legislation which will 
allow companies like Ausdoc to be exempted from the reserved services 
provisions of the postal regulatory regime.

These provisions ensure that Australia Post has sufficient revenue to fund 
its universal service obligations, ensuring that all Australians have 
access to affordable basic postal services. The new legislation places this 
guarantee under threat.

The Bill will:

* provide preferential legislative treatment for a single private operator 
at the cost of the national provider of universal postal services;

* effectively deregulate the business-to-business mail market, opening up 
approximately $700 million, or 40 percent, of Australia Post's reserved 
service revenue to full competition;

* potentially jeopardise the funding of Australia's reserved postal 
services, including the standard letter service and other vital postal 
services, especially those in unprofitable rural and regional Australia, 
with the potential for differential pricing.

The union's Communication Division Secretary, Brian Baulk, said it was 
ridiculous that the Howard Government was continuing with its ideological 
drive to undermine one of the world's best performing postal services.

"The exposure of this new plan confirms the failure of this government to 
respond to community opposition to postal deregulation", said Mr Baulk.

"The new plan by the government represents a secret attempt to hoodwink the 
Parliament and the public to let deregulation through. There's no way this 
will happen."

The CEPU says that postal workers will not sit idly by and let the 
government destroy Australia's postal network. A renewed campaign will be 
launched in the near future against the legislation.

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