AMWU, PVCA seek better deal for print from Australia Post at Senate Committee inquiry

The Print & Visual Communication Association (PVCA) and the Australian Manufacturers Workers Union (AMWU) have appeared jointly at a Senate Standing Committee which is running an inquiry into Australia Post.

The Environment and Communications References Committee was given the responsibility of running the inquiry in February 2021 with its chief aim being an investigation into the standing down of former Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate over the Cartier watch scandal.

Australia Post service model in question

Also included in the Senate Committee’s terms of reference is an examination of a secret review of Australia Post by the Boston Consulting Group which led to changes to Australia Post’s service model. Future reductions to Australia Post’s service model was also included in the terms of reference.

These changes, which were intended to be temporary during COVID, have caused major problems for the printing and direct mail industries as it has created significant delivery delays and impacted the operating environment for printers. Questions around service delivery continue to create substantial uncertainty for the industry going forward.

AMWU, PVCA submission

The AMWU’s formal submission to the Committee, which was supported by the PVCA, centred on these issues. PVCA President, Walter Kuhn, fronted the Committee, alongside AMWU Assistant National Secretary of the Graphical Print and Packaging Membership, Lorraine Cassin, and AMWU National Industrial Officer, Margaret Hogan on Tuesday in Canberra.

In its submission, the PVCA and the AMWU called for a cessation of reduced mail from June 30 with a full return to normal service delivery. They are also seeking an Australia Post round table so the issues effecting the print and packaging sectors can be properly aired.

“The AMWU strongly supports a return to the previous service model along with a Priority Mail service by Australia Post. There is a need for a strong and prompt traditional mail service. The digital divide in Australia makes this a necessity in our view,” the submission reads.

AMWU’s Margaret Hogan and Lorraine Cassin with PVCA President Walter Kuhn

“Australia Post is a vital and essential national asset and service, which serves the Print & Visual Communication Industry and any decline in the Delivery Model has a detrimental effect on our industry,” Kuhn said after the hearing.

Cassin added: “We have seen a detrimental impact on sectors of our industry such as paper and envelope making and printing of material for the Unaddressed Mail Service.”

Kuhn and Cassin said the position taken in their submission was:

  • The secretive Boston Consulting Group report should be released in the interests of transparency for such an important national asset as Australia  Post as it belongs to all Australians;
  • The future reductions of Australia Post’s service model is rejected by the PVCA and AMWU.  We demanded a cessation of the reduced mail on 30th June and a return to the normal service so that Australians, particularly those from lower socio economic groups and the elderly who are not digitally connected get their information in a timely manner and are not disadvantaged because of their status;
  • The PVCA and the AMWU put forward that an Industry Stakeholder group be set up so that all participants, including Australia Post can sit around a table and develop policy that will support the mail service and associated industries so that mail and those industries grow and provide good and secure jobs.

The Real Media Collective

In July last year, The Real Media Collective also made a formal submission to the same Senate Committee as it investigated The Future of Australia Post’s Delivery.

A submission has also been made to the Communication Minister, Paul Fletcher, and discussions with Australia Post have followed and continue.

TRMC CEO Kellie Northwood said the lobbying of Australia Post has been going on for some months and is continuing.

“The Real Media Collective have been lobbying on this matter for some months, issuing an industry survey and two (2) formal submissions into the Minister and Senate Committee throughout 2020 and earlier in 2021,” Northwood said.

“There is a current industry survey being run to provide ongoing data into the Senate and Minister engaging feedback from printers, publishers and mail-houses across the country.

“Our members were supportive of the initial temporary service provisions in 2020, given the impact of COVID and supported Australia Post in the difficult chapter we were all experiencing. However, when Australia Post requested an extension of the temporary service we sought input of the impact from industry again and found that 85% of industry had been negatively impacted by the reduced service provisions.”

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