Pipped at the Post: deregulation defeated

The Democrats and Labor opposition joined forces in the Senate last week to quash government proposals to deregulate Australia Post.

NSW Democrat Senator Vicki Bourne said the proposed amendments to the Australia Postal Corporation Act targets business mail the most lucrative component of postal services.

"Business mail accounts for about 85 per cent of Australia Post letters; it is little wonder other postal service providers are seeking access to this lucrative network," she said.

Responding to the results of the government's review into postal services by the National Competition Council, Senator Bourne said Australia Post has provided more than $2.5 billion in revenue over the past decade and has a community obligation to rural areas.

Tasmanian ALP Senator Kerry O'Brien accused the government of attempting to take away from Australia Post "part of its business and to hand it over to its mates at the big end of town."

"The government is trying to transfer $300 million to its mates at the big end of town not trying to improve postal services in Australia," he said.

However, Victorian National Party Senator Julian McGauran (Victoria) gave a guarantee Australia Post would remain in public hands despite National Competition Council recommendations that the postal service should face competition.

"Australia Post is a good expample of a 100 per cent owned government utility working; it is one of those exception along with the Wheat Board and sugar industry," he said.

The Senator also said no post office will close and the government has frozen the cost of delivering a letter at 45 cents until 2003.

"Unlike Labor which closed 277 postal outlets during its term in government," he added.

The government's proposed amendments were withdrawn from the Senate after Labor presented a petition with 43,603 signatures opposing the the Competition Council's recommendations.

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