Australia Post is spending thousands of dollars a week to fly cash to just one town, as part of its bid to service Australians living in rural and remote parts of the country who rely on their post office to do their banking.
But the postal service’s chief executive has conceded doing so is “not sustainable”, and called on Australia’s banks to work with the postal corporation to ensure all Australians have access to cash.
Banks have increasingly shuttered their outlets in rural and regional parts of the country, putting pressure on Australia Post’s more than 3400 Bank@Post outlets.
Paul Graham told senators during estimates on Tuesday that currently Australia Post was flying cash out to parts of the country “on our dime”.
“Cooper Pedy, for example, is about $4000 a week that we’re spending flying cash in to make sure that town has a provision of cash,” he told the committee.
“That’s not what we were set up to do, and the banks need to be cognisant of their community responsibility and work with us to ensure that communities that do have a need for cash … that those services are made available.”
He said the postal service was hyper vigilant that when Bank@Post was the only banking facility in a town, that those outlets continue to remain open.
He lamented that there was a “real challenge” in getting staff to man the smaller outposts, and highlighted the slowing foot traffic.
Speaking more broadly about the service, Mr Graham said there were already “green shoots” from the modernisation reforms being rolled out, which he said puts Australia Post on “a more sustainable financial pathway”.
“However, we still face a challenge in outlook as digital services drive down customer business, as opposed to others. And rising costs pushes many license and corporate post offices into financial losses,” he said.
Part of the modernisation process was to slow down letter delivery to every second day, after the business posted a $200m loss last financial year, with more losses forecast in the years to come.