Post­ing a down­turn in qual­ity

Shepparton News - - OPINION -

You have to feel a lit­tle sorry for ‘‘Sami’’, the poor Aus­tralia Post drone whose job it is to an­swer each and every com­plaint made on pro­duc­tre­

There are a lot of com­plaints. The over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity, all 3878 of them, rate the ser­vice of Aus­tralia Post at one star or ‘‘ter­ri­ble’’.

‘‘A Christ­mas card took 3 weeks to get from Mitcham (in Vic­to­ria) to Can­ter­bury (in Vic­to­ria) — a dis­tance of 13 km!’’ — One star

‘‘Safe drop was can­celled by courier. Now I have to go to post of­fice to pick up a heavy pack­age. How hard is it just to leave my item at my front door? Pa­thetic,’’ — One star

‘‘A courier pulled up out­side while I was home, car in the drive­way and dumped a card in my let­ter box stat­ing no one was home and to pick it up from the PO!’’ — Two stars

‘‘Paid for ex­press post (and) was told (it would) get there next day as was only 30 min­utes away. Not only did it not ar­rive they lost par­cel . . . I have had to re­fund buyer $900.’’ — One star And this was only yes­ter­day. A few decades ago, Aus­tralia Post was a highly trusted brand.

As a gov­ern­ment-owned cor­po­ra­tion Snail mail: with its own leg­is­la­tion guid­ing op­er­a­tions, the Aus­tralian Postal Cor­po­ra­tion Act, the job was rel­a­tively straight­for­ward — de­liver the coun­try’s mail and parcels in a timely man­ner.

The ser­vice was very re­li­able. A lo­cally posted item would usu­ally ar­rive the next day in the case of lo­cal mail or within the next two work­ing days for just about ev­ery­where else in Aus­tralia.

‘‘Lost mail’’ was next to un­heard of.

Some­where along the line, some­thing went dras­ti­cally wrong.

The ob­vi­ous sus­pect is dig­i­tal dis­rup­tion. Email and later in­stant mes­sag­ing ser­vices grad­u­ally eroded, then all but wiped out, the writ­ten let­ter. The mail that comes in dead-tree form these days is usu­ally un­wanted: bills, no­tices, thinly dis­guised ad­ver­tis­ing.

Aus­tralia Post sub­se­quently suf­fered a cri­sis of con­fi­dence; what does a postal ser­vice do when its pri­mary func­tion all but ceases to ex­ist?

What­ever it is they did, they did it wrong.

In 2010, with much fan­fare, then chief ex­ec­u­tive Ahmed Fa­hour an­nounced Aus­tralia Post’s ‘‘Fu­ture Ready’’ strat­egy. Five years later, the or­gan­i­sa­tion an­nounced its first ever loss. Two years af­ter that it was re­vealed Mr Fa­hour’s salary was a cool $5.6 mil­lion, a fig­ure that drew crit­i­cism from the high­est lev­els of gov­ern­ment.

The lat­est chief ex­ec­u­tive is paid con­sid­er­ably less.

Aus­tralia Post is not a busi­ness. It has no share­hold­ers. When cus­tomers sit on hold to the com­plaints line for 30 min­utes, there is no­body to com­plain about the com­plaints line to.

Un­der its govern­ing leg­is­la­tion, the only two peo­ple Aus­tralia Post an­swers to are Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Mitch Fi­field and Fi­nance Min­is­ter Mathias Cor­mann.

See­ing as both seem to spend most of their time plot­ting over who the next prime min­is­ter will be, Aus­tralia Post doesn’t seem to be an­swer­ing to them much ei­ther. ● Myles Peter­son is a News jour­nal­ist. Han­nah Gadsby Happy birth­day to­day to Aus­tralian co­me­dian and writer Han­nah Gadsby (1978-). Host­ing the Os­cars is a dou­ble-edged sword. The pres­ti­gious Hol­ly­wood gig is well known for be­ing no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult, but none­the­less a ti­tle of ac­claim. At the 11th hour be­fore the 91st edi­tion, Kevin Hart pulled out when con­tro­ver­sial tweets from his past emerged. A few prom­i­nent fig­ures sur­faced. Among the fa­mous names: Han­nah Gadsby. De­spite be­ing well known on the lo­cal com­edy cir­cuit, her name was barely recog­nised out­side Aus­tralia be­fore last year. Now fol­low­ing her stage show turned Net­flix spe­cial Nanette, the co­me­dian counts Kathy Grif­fin, Mon­ica Lewin­sky and Emma Thomp­son as fans. Nanette has been hailed as one of the most im­por­tant com­edy spe­cials in years. Born in Smith­ton, Tas­ma­nia, Gadsby grew up the youngest of five chil­dren. She grad­u­ated from Aus­tralian Na­tional Uni­ver­sity in 2003 with a de­gree ma­jor­ing in art his­tory and cu­ra­tor­ship. She grew up in Tas­ma­nia dur­ing the 1990s as the state de­bated whether to be­come the last in Aus­tralia to le­galise ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity. Gadsby, who is now openly les­bian, said the frac­tured sen­ti­ment about her sex­ual sta­tus led to feel­ings of ‘‘self­ha­tred’’. She has ac­crued nu­mer­ous ac­co­lades over the years in­clud­ing gongs at the Syd­ney and Mel­bourne com­edy fes­ti­vals and four Help­mann awards for best com­edy. Gadsby, who last year pre­sented the Emmy for out­stand­ing di­rect­ing in a drama se­ries, made pub­lic her ADHD di­ag­no­sis in 2015. Her speech at the Hol­ly­wood Re­porter’s an­nual women’s gala blast­ing ‘‘good men’’ in early De­cem­ber later went vi­ral.

Once a highly trusted brand, Aus­tralia Post has had a big dent in its per­for­mance.

Pic­ture: AAP Im­age/Jen­nifer Gray­lock

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