Three-day mail run could suit farmers
Farmers could probably live with a rural postal delivery three or four days a week, says Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills.
Those wanting to keep a sixday service might have to pay for the extra days, he said.
State- owned enterprise NZ Post is in discussions with the federation and Rural Women NZ as the company awaits the Government’s response to its request for a review of the 1998 Deed of Understanding.
This deed stipulates NZ Post must maintain six-day-a-week delivery to most of the 1.9 million delivery points in New Zealand and operate a network of no fewer than 880 outlets.
The company has 220,000 registered rural customers, served by 540 Rural Post contractors with 579 delivery contracts.
It operates 600 Rural Post delivery vehicles, which include vans, utes, cars, trucks and ‘‘the odd bus and boat’’. Daily they travel 96,000 kilometres.
In a toughly worded letter to State-owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall earlier this year, NZ Post chairman Sir Michael Cullen said 2012 was crunch time for the capital- strapped SOE, and cost-cutting and new products could no longer counter rapidly and irreversibly falling mail volumes.
His request for a review is being worked on by officials at the Business Innovation and Employment Ministry.
There is no word on when a recommendation might emerge from the ministry, but process would require it to first go to the minister, then to a Cabinet committee and then out for public submissions.
A NZ Post spokesman said the SOE was keen to engage with the rural sector on its quest for delivery flexibility.
The rural postal network had its own challenges and requirements, which was why it had its own business, he said.
‘‘But we recognise you can’t homogenise the rural sector, which has many different strands and shades. We would anticipate that Federated Farmers and others will make submissions.’’
Mr Wills said the federation agreed with and understood NZ Post’s need to have the deed changed.
‘‘ It doesn’t make economic sense to continue six-day delivery.
‘‘More and more stuff is being sent by email, including by farmers.
‘‘I would suggest that three or four-day delivery at some stage, maybe in two years, is just common sense.’’
He said some farmers might have an issue because they wanted their newspaper delivered daily.
‘‘ Those who want six- day delivery may have to pay something extra.’’
NZ Post said that in the past 10 years mail volumes had fallen 20 per cent, and delivery points had increased by the same amount.
This was ‘‘an irreversible and unsustainable trend’’.