Senate inquiry into Australia Post underway amid bully claims

A licensed post office in Wollongong was the centre of an attempted security audit today after its licensee spoke out about Australia Post at a Senate estimates hearing yesterday.

“I have absolutely no doubt it’s designed to intimidate me,” said licensee Angela Cramp. “It’s just classic bullying and harassment.”

The Licensed Post Office Group’s spokeswoman said she stopped Australia Post auditors from entering her shop because it was at a busy time. “We don’t need to do that,” she said. “They can come back during the day when there’s somebody that can answer their questions.”

However, Australia Post has refuted the bullying claim.

Australia Post spokeswoman Michelle Skehan says six outlets in the area were scheduled for a security survey today, including Angela Cramp’s Warilla LPO, and every Australia Post outlet nationally is surveyed on a two-year cycle.

Skehan says the survey is conducted to protect Australia Post’s workforce and customers against security risks factors, primarily around armed robbery and burglary.

“The security survey plan is developed two years in advance and Australia Post refutes any claims of a link between yesterday’s Senate estimates hearing and the routine survey occurring today,” she says.

She says Warilla LPO was last surveyed two years ago in August 2011. 

The licensed post offices say they are in financial strife and have been successful in petitioning for a Senate inquiry into Australia Post and its “challenges”.

A Senate inquiry into the immediate and long-term “challenges” for Australia Post has begun to accept submissions before releasing its findings, due on December 11. The Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications will conduct the inquiry.

Submissions will be open for 11 days, closing November 25.

The terms of reference for the inquiry call for investigation into the “operations of Australia Post in relation to Licensed Post Offices” and “the licensing and trading conditions applicable to LPOs, including the Community Service Obligations, and any effects these may have on operating an LPO business”, among other things.

An Australia Post spokeswoman Michelle Skehan told SmartCompany, “We welcome the opportunity to discuss the importance of our LPO partners and the critical role that Australia Post plays in delivering services to the community at the upcoming senate enquiry.”

Cramp said the inquiry had short dates because LPOs were in danger of going under. “I can’t wait for them to talk about this for six months, I need some immediate action,” she says.

Senate inquiries can run for months or more depending on how they are set up.

LPO Group has threatened to sue Australia Post over its reimbursements for parcel handling, which the group says does not cover costs.

Australia Post has increased the reimbursement for parcel deliveries.

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