Australia Post has announced that it will close all counter services at Glebe Post Office on Friday 4th February 2011. Mr Jim Berrell, Retail Area Manager at Australia Post, has announced this and notices to this effect are on display in Glebe Post Office.
Residents are concerned that the closure of the Glebe Post Office will:
- inconvenience the aged and infirmed
- many local residents do their banking and bill paying at the Post Office for they do not have credit cards or computers
- have a disastrous effect on local businesses on Glebe Point Road
- force local residents to go to the post office at Broadway Centre, which is already very busy.
It is suggested that you contact Tanya Plibersek, MP, at Tanya.Plibersek.MP@aph.gov.au to express your concerns and request that she use her influence to have this decision by Australia Post overturned before it is too late.
Liz Simpson-Booker, Acting President, The Glebe Society, said:
“The Glebe Society is very disturbed by the recent announcement that counter services at Glebe Post Office will close early in the New Year.
The argument of a significant decline in customer numbers flies in the face of widespread anecdotal evidence of “there is always a queue at Glebe Post Office”. The offer of four alternative post offices “within approximately 2km of the present post office” is no comfort to the elderly and infirm, many of whom do not carry credit cards and who currently conduct their banking and bill-paying at the post office.
The Society is also seriously disappointed that Australia Post has failed to consult, has failed to understand the nature of Glebe as a village and has chosen to totally disregard the significant community impacts.
The decision has made a mockery of Australia Post’s own Corporate Responsibility Policy which includes in its key objectives that it will “give meaningful consideration to community … impacts” and be “open and accountable”.
Perhaps if this conveniently located building, which was a valuable heritage-listed public asset, had not been sold to private interests in the first place, the viability of the site may not have been thrown into question.
Along with other formal and informal groups within the community as well as individuals, The Glebe Society will be vehemently protesting the proposed closure of this essential service in Glebe and urging the withdrawal of the proposal by Australia Post.”
Roelof Smilde, local resident and member of the Glebe Society, has written the following to provide you with some thoughts on the issue:
The Australian Postal Corporation Act was passed by Federal Parliament in 1988 and went into force on the 1st of January 1989. Classified under the heading of a Government Business Enterprise (GBE),. it gave the Australia Post a CEO and a board of directors, a monopoly over a broad range of letters and a very wide range of commercial opportunities, but kept a considerable degree of government control. The only shareholder is the Federal Government, board members are appointed by the Governor-General under advice from the Minister, strategic decisions of consequence must be referred to the relevant Government Ministers, (Communications and Finance), there are a number of community service obligations (CSOs), minimum standards with regard to the number of postal outlets (4000) and post boxes (10,000) and of course the GBE is under the Companies Act. There is a complaints procedure and dissatisfied customers can also turn to the relevant ombudsman. The Act requires high standards of accountability, integrity and efficiency but requires the business to meet its own costs and provide the government with an annual dividend.
Comment. Australia Post is a privatised hybrid and has Paul Keating’s economic rationalist stamp all over it. Despite several references to public responsibility, accountability and community consultation, AP acts for the most part as a corporation with profit as the bottom line. Due to the growing use of PCs and online banking, according to AP, its profit margin has been reduced. The corporation is still in the black but has made a pre-emptive move to counter their shrinking income by proposing the closure of some 27 outlets, including Glebe Post Office. Each one of the targets has been declared ‘unviable’ and that immediately raises a lot of questions.
What is it that really makes each case ‘unviable’? Higher rents (who owns the buildings)? Bad business practice? Failure to respond to modern trends in communication in a positive and competitive way? AP says there are 27 ‘unviable’
outlets, that leaves 4,387 that are OK. Is AP unable to carry these 27 until they improve their performance? Do they have a lot more closures in mind?
The overriding question is the ideological one. They say they have to attend to the bottom line, profit. That is in itself an ideological statement; the non-ideological fact is that Australia Post (the old PMG) is a basic and essential service which used to be run by the government and paid for by taxes. To adopt closures as a commercial practice is a thoroughly regressive step which severely disadvantages the communities affected (none of which have been consulted).
In the case of Glebe, the closure would be a very bad business manoeuvre as well its obviously bad social impact. The demographic area in and around Glebe is headed for great expansion with the brewery site development on Broadway (5000 residents), the mixed housing development at the Bay and Cowper streets site and the new development at the old Harold Park site (2500). The small postal outlet in the Broadway Centre cannot possibly meet the near future requirements and will create a nightmare for the residents of this very large area.