A mixed bag of changes

Postal mail could become slower and more expensive in Gippsland after Australia Post won its deregulation bid to tackle its falling profits.

Federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull this week briefed MPs about the proposed two-speed mail service, which includes regular mail being delivered two days slower than its current rate.

The cost of a regular stamp may also increase from 70 cents to $1 as part of the advised changes, due to come into effect in September.

Meeniyan post office licensee Lindsay Fromhold said he believed the new system was a long time coming.

“Our payments are all based on the basic postage rate, which has failed dramatically to keep up with inflation over the last 20 years,” Mr Fromhold said.

“There are about two and a half thousand licensed post offices across Australia, mostly in rural and remote areas, including Yinnar and Churchill.

“The increase in the basic postage rate will help a lot of struggling licensed post offices keep their doors open.”

Last week Australia Post announced a half-year profit slide of 56 per cent, blaming the decline on a postal letter loss of more than $300 million a year.

Australians are sending a billion fewer letters each year than they were in 2008, due to the convenience of emails and social networking.

Meeniyan resident of 35 years, Avril Van Wamel, still uses her local post office once a week to post birthday cards or letters with the regular 70c stamp.

Although Ms Van Wamel does not mind waiting for the slower service, she said paying a dollar per stamp was too much.

“Personally, I think it will cause more problems,” Ms Van Wamel said.

“Australia Post is providing a service, first and foremost. It’s also a business, but it is providing a service to the community.

“I think it will encourage people to use email even more, because the price is going up again.”

If Senate passes the two-tier system, Australia Post may charge a premium rate between $1 and $6 for priority deliveries as they become a commercial product.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will continue to oversee regular stamp prices, which means Australia Post must apply for any increases.

“At present Australia Post states that it costs an average of $1 to supply this service,” Mr Fromhold said.

“If the mail service is not to become a drain on the public purse this cost must be recovered in some way and ‘user pays’ is the fairest way to go.”

Mail will still be delivered five days a week, Christmas cards will cost 65c a stamp and 60c stamp prices for concession card holders will remain frozen until 2017.