Federal Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon is concerned by the growing number of local post offices in the Hunter electorate which have now closed or are closing.
This year and in recent years the Lake Macquarie community has seen the closure of Booragul, Marmong Point, Teralba and Blackalls Park post offices.Woodrising will be closing in January 2018.
Many constituents have raised their concerns with me in relation to the closures and the big impact it is having on the frail and elderly in the local communities who do not drive or cannot access public transport, Mr Fitzgibbon said.
Mr Fitzgibbon highlighted his concerns in Parliament on Monday by speaking about the increasing occurrence of post office closures, particularly in rural and regional towns across the nation.
Booragul, Marmong Point, Teralba, Blackalls Park and Woodrising are all wonderful townships and communities in my electorate, he said.
They are all around the western side of Lake Macquarie. What else do they have in common, Mr Deputy Speaker? They are all losing their local post offices. Their post offices either are already closed or are about to close, and I know that this is a common occurrence right across our great nation.
Australia Post will say that they cannot secure people to run these licensed post offices any longer, and at first blush that seems a not unreasonable response to what is quite a crisis for many in our local communities.
But I ask the question today: how hard are Australia Post really trying? And since when does every aspect of every government business enterprise have to turn a profit? We could all think of tens, if not thousands, of examples where governments subsidise basic community services at the federal, state and local government level.
I know Australia Post will also say that it is already heavily subsidising the work of our licensed post offices, but I also pose the question: how much is an appropriate level of investment to keep such basic services going in our community?
We all know that letter services are falling dramatically, we all know that email and other forms of electronic communications are now taking over very rapidly the use of the traditional letter services, but we also know that there are many older people in our communities who haven't had the same opportunity or indeed the will or the knowledge to take up those new forms of communications, and we should think of them. Those same people know that Australia Post made a profit of $146 million last financial year.
Mr Fitzgibbon calls on Australia Post to maintain its investment in local post offices to ensure the basic service is provided to all, regardless of where they live.