IN A move which has devastated the licensees of Toora Post Office and which puts the very future of this local business in jeopardy, Australia Post has not renewed their town mail delivery contract. Instead, in a move presumably aimed at cutting costs, the corporate giant has decided to award the contract to a Melbourne-based company.
Greg and Maree Stewart, who have owned the post office for the past 15 years, were given three business days’ notice of this decision, which took effect yesterday (October 1). They took the opportunity to inform their customers – in Toora and surrounding areas, including Agnes, Barry Beach, Toora North and Wonyip – in a letter detailing the changes – and the potential ramifications.
“It is with great regret that the Toora Licensed Post Office may soon be forced to consider closing its doors,” they wrote.
“Regrettably, this decision not only affects ourselves but will mean three wonderful local people through no fault of their own will also lose their jobs.
“Most of you probably don’t realise that the revenue from this mail contract has been responsible for propping up the income of our post office, enabling us to keep the post office viable. Licensees of post offices do not receive a wage or salary from Australia Post. We are small business owners just the same as any other shop in town. Our incomes are derived purely from commissions earned by processing your bill payments and banking transactions on behalf of Australia Post, as well as a small discount on postage products we purchase from Australia Post and then sell to you the customer.
“Unfortunately, over the past few years there has been a steady decline in customers using the post office to pay their bills, or using the banking facilities provided, as they prefer to use the phone or internet.
“We probably appear to be very busy to most of you, but most of our day is spent doing unpaid work such as storing, sorting and scanning parcels that you will all have noticed covering every available spot we can find to fit them. Australia Post provides us with a negligible payment for this service, which is based on us receiving approximately five parcels a day. We can receive anything up to 50 parcels or more per day and that of course is not even taking into consideration peak times such as Christmas. Unfortunately the commissions we receive and sale of stamps will barely pay the hefty business insurances, public liability, rates, phone and electricity bills and all other operating costs involved with running a business.”
Maree Stewart said that her family, including husband Greg and son Chris – love living and working in Toora “and have always enjoyed providing a vital service for our community” but without the mail delivery to keep them going they fear that they will no longer be able to keep the post office operating as a viable concern.
The response from the community, said Maree, has already been huge. “People have been very supportive. They have been disgusted to hear what Australia Post has done.”
She urged people who want to save Toora’s post office to make their views known.
“You need to let Australia Post know. You need to lobby your local members of parliament and express your opinion regarding Australia Post’s current practice of awarding contracts without ascertaining the individual circumstances involved.”
Maree said she and Greg have held meetings with Australia Post advising them how their decision to outsource the mail contract will in fact cripple the post office and the town of Toora, but so far their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. In the meantime, “we will try to hang in as long as we can…”