The government has ruled out selling Australia Post for now, but says the future of our mail service is uncertain due to dwindling demand.
There are reports Australia Post is set to cut 900 jobs, as it tries to avoid losing billions of dollars under its current business plan.
Its 32,000 staff are expected to be informed of the cuts as early as Tuesday, with most positions to go in Sydney and Melbourne.
Everyday home delivery of standard-priced mail is expected to be another casualty, with the service to be cut back to two or three times a week providing approval can be sought to change government regulations.
Federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says the Abbott government will not sell Australia Post, however it will proceed with a scoping study into the sale of the Royal Australian Mint.
There has been increasing speculation about the possible sale of the iconic postal delivery service after Treasurer Joe Hockey earlier this year left open the possibility of its privatisation.
Earlier this month Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims urged the government to sell assets to increase productivity, and former ACCC commissioner Stephen King came out strongly in favour of a sale of Australia Post.
Australia Post has revealed that its digital mailbox service left beta testing and has been formally released.
The digital mail service, intended to be a more secure version of email for bills and other important documents, went into public beta last year.
An Australia Post spokeswoman said the postal service continues to add providers supporting service.
In addition to the formal launch of the digital mailbox, Australia Post said it would also scale up its physical mail services, including year-round delivery on Saturdays. The announcement comes at a time when debate in the United States occurs around whether to kill Saturday deliveries to save money for the US Postal Service.
Australia Post chairman John Stanhope said a user-pays postal system was a viable option after the company’s letter operations suffered a $218 million loss last year because the public had sent fewer letters than ever.
The user-pays model means residents would pay an annual bill in addition to the stamp price, which increased from 60¢ to 70¢ in March.
“If you want it fast, you pay for it,” Mr Stanhope said.
“You want it more related to the cost base, so if you are happy enough for your letter to be delivered less frequently then you pay less, if you want it more frequent you pay more, if you want it express you pay more, so you pay for the level of service,” he told Fairfax Media following a Trans-Tasman lunch in Melbourne on Tuesday.
Australia Post is featuring national and state floral emblems in a new stamp issue available now. These floral emblems are striking examples of Australia’s flora and form part of the nation’s identity and floral heritage.
The four domestic base-rate (70c) stamps depict the Golden Wattle Acacia pycnantha, Tasmanian Blue Gum Eucalyptus globulus, Waratah Telopea speciosissima and the Common Heath Epacris impressa. The three large letter rate ($1.40, $2.10 and $3.50) stamps depict the Cooktown Orchid Dendrobium phalaenopsis, the Red and Green Kangaroo Paw Anigozanthos manglesii and Sturt’s Desert Pea Swainsona Formosa respectively.
“Australians have a love of flowers and these floral emblems are not only visually stunning, but are symbolic of our nation,” said Australia Post Philatelic Manager, Mr Michael Zsolt.
Australia’s national flower, the Golden Wattle Acacia pycnantha is featured on one of the 70 cent stamps. It has been a popular national flower in Australia for more than 100 years and it has been included in Australia’s coat of arms since 1912.
The Golden Wattle was officially proclaimed as the national floral emblem by the Minister for Home Affairs, Robert Ray on 1 September 1988 at a ceremony held at the Australian National Botanic Gardens.
Australia’s state floral emblems also featured in the new stamp issue are:
Tasmanian Blue GumEucalyptus globulus was proclaimed the floral emblem of Tasmania in 1962.
WaratahTelopea speciosissima was proclaimed the floral emblem of New South Wales in 1962.
Common HeathEpacris impressa was proclaimed the floral emblem of Victoria in 1958.
Cooktown OrchidDendrobium phalaenopsis was proclaimed the floral emblem of Queensland in 1959.
Red and Green Kangaroo PawAnigozanthos manglesii was proclaimed the floral emblem of Western Australia in 1960.
Sturt’s Desert PeaSwainsona formosa was proclaimed the floral emblem of South Australia in 1961.
The designer of the stamps is Jo Muré of the Australia Post Design Studio.
The associated products with this stamp issue include a first day cover, stamp pack, a maxicard set, two postcards, a medallion cover, booklets of 10 and 20 x 70c self-adhesive stamps, and rolls of 100 and 200 x 70c self-adhesive stamps.
The Floral Emblems stamp issue, released 24 March 2014, is available now at participating Australia Post retail outlets, via mail order on 1800 331 794 and online at auspost.com.au/stamps while stocks last.
Australia’s communications industry trade union has denounced the idea of charging the public to provide daily mail deliveries.
The criticism came after Australia Post conducted an online survey asking their customers if they would be willing to pay a $30 annual fee for daily mail deliveries if the free service switched to three-days-a-week.
Australia Post is currently looking for ways to improve the efficiency of its traditional mail business. Although the company overall made a healthy profit last year thanks to soaring parcel volumes, the letters business lost $220m.
Australia’s postal service has released a world-first "video stamp" which allows people to send a 15-second video with their parcels.
The new service allows senders to scan a coded stamp on their mail bag and record a message on their smartphone via an app, and then stick the stamp to their parcel. Recipients can view the message by scanning the stamp on their smartphone or tablet or by entering a code on the Australia Post website.