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The Forum > Article Comments > Good mail on privatisation > Comments

Good mail on privatisation : Comments

By Julie Novak, published 26/10/2012

In countries such as Germany, Malaysia and the Netherlands the government post offices have been either partially or completely privatised, mainly through the public offerings of shares.

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When I lived for a short time in the US I used to visit the post offices there just to soak in the atmosphere. Great cavernous halls, lined with tables on which one could write easily on envelopes, or place stamps, or wrap pretty ribbons around lumpy packages. Customers were respectful, the air serious, the noise muted – as though acknowledging the nature of the business at hand. In fact, so enjoyable was the experience, I would often write letters to myself, just to have the chance to go there.

When I returned to Australia I found the post offices to be nothing more than an amalgamation of toy store and newsagency, a place where the business of correspondence took second place to cheap China-made commerce. Where the number of staff had been reduced to a paltry few, forcing impatient customers to queue, serpent-like, around stands of greeting cards, kids’ games and books and glossy postcards. Where envelopes and padded bags and boxes – those things one actually comes to the post office to get - were cleverly displayed out of reach. Where writing and packaging benches had been reduced to the size of a school desk, and customers were made to elbow each other angrily as they fought for space. Add to that all the stupid, time-consuming ‘security’ forms one has to fill out just to send a present to an overseas relative, and it’s easy to identify the reasons behind the $91m shortfall.

It is not just the success of the internet and its associated communication tools that spells the demise of Australia Post. Nor is it the fact that it is government-run. It is because some beauracrat, at some point in our illustrious history, decided that Australia Post needed to ‘branch out’.

If AP wants to cut its losses, then it needs to cut back on trying to flog to an already pissed-off customer base, useless and cheap gimmicky goods that no-one goes in there to buy.

There is no doubt that privatizing AP would only lead to more of the same.
Posted by scribbler, Friday, 26 October 2012 8:12:35 AM
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...How could we the consumer ever miss the function of a post office. The chance arrival of a personal letter is infinitesimal; the avalanche of invoices through my letterbox is more indicative of a “lost joy” when the postman was a welcome caller, a Santa clause on two wheels almost. Now the angry bark of the dog at his arrival, seems much more applicable than ever it was!

... Privatise?...Get on with it! Find a way to make it pay “Henry Ford”!
Posted by diver dan, Friday, 26 October 2012 9:40:36 AM
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Privatise and the cost of using the postal service will go up and up,and quality of the postal service will go down and down for shareholder profit and managements high salaries; as did all the other utility and public services that have been privatised.
Posted by Kipp, Friday, 26 October 2012 12:48:16 PM
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cost of using the postal service will go up and up,and quality of the postal service will go down and down
Kipp,
Will ? It already does. Yesterday I sent an envelope with a small booklet to our next town via surface mail, $10.40. It should arrive in ten days I was told.
Posted by individual, Friday, 26 October 2012 7:17:12 PM
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There is a vast difference between "efficiency" and "effectiveness", especially when it comes to providing a public service.

The privatisations of entities such as Telstra, the Commonwealth Bank, Sydney Airport and various State energy and rail suppliers have not resulted in better service for the public, just increased costs.

Privatisation is little more than the theft of a public asset built up over generations in order to enhance the private wealth of a few and for short term political gain.

If there is a problem that could be solved simply by changing some business model then why can't it be done while still a public company?
How could just changing ownership make some sort of unique difference?

I sent a parcel home to Australia while in Italy several years ago by surface mail. It weighed about 3 kilos and it cost me about 80 euros.
Posted by rache, Friday, 26 October 2012 10:01:26 PM
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Agree with Kip and rache.
All we've ever gained from privatisation has been increased costs!
Then we wonder why the global economy is in so much trouble.
We were once the third most prosperous nation on the planet, and a creditor one at that.
We the people owned most if not all the cash cow essential service.
This also suited most business operators, many who have since off-shored their operations to somehow defray the costs imposed by debt laden private operators?
Who not only now need to carry thousands of entirely unproductive share holders, but parasitical blood sucking foreign bankers as well?
And guess who is expected to carry the can for all these privatisation outcomes?
US mail is going broke, while Australia Post is moving with the times and Internet sales, by building a nice money earning parcel delivery service.
Our post offices are very nearly all private businesses, operated by franchisees.
All mail delivery is now carried out by self employed contractors. What could privatisation add, except say increased charges?
We need another big bank and one owned by the people!
The Post Office is uniquely positioned to provide banking services in almost every town.
And there is no other choice for it, but to diversify!
Moreover, it already is a branch office for Australia's biggest bank.
The business of posting letters is being continually eroded by Emails and text messages!
Lack of volume is what is driving up the cost of some mail deliveries.
None more glaringly obviously over priced, than mail delivery to PO boxes in the same town as the letter is posted!
That said, who in their right mind would want to buy a loss making letter delivering postal service?
Rhrosty.
Posted by Rhrosty, Friday, 26 October 2012 11:28:38 PM
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