Australia Post hits reverse on perishable goods move

By: Rob McKay

Backlash over ending service sees ASBFEO co-chair industry working forum

Australia Post hits reverse on perishable goods move
Bruce Billson


Showing gymnastic speed and flexibility, Australia Post insists it will continue to move perishable goods nationally.

The government-owned parcels and post service also pledges to work collaboratively to find solutions to support small business food producers with the support of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Bruce Billson.

The backflip comes almost immediately after significant criticism by Billson and small business interests at a move that had blindsided them.

An industry working forum, to be co-chaired by Billson, has been formed to resolve cross-state regulatory issues as part of Australia Post’s commitment to support producers’ domestic perishable-goods transport needs.

"I look forward to working closely with Australia Post and all relevant stakeholders to ensure small businesses can continue to count on these essential delivery services," Billson says.

"Small business food producers, especially those in regional areas, are breathing a huge sigh of relief today that they can continue doing what they do best – growing their business – with confidence that their goods will be delivered by Australia Post.

"Australia Post has positioned itself as the delivery partner to small businesses and family enterprises, particularly to those businesses that moved to selling their products online as a result of the Covid crisis.

"This partnership has benefited both sides of the relationship and consumers.

"It was not right to unilaterally declare an end to vital delivery services to the detriment of these small businesses and the customers who depend on them.

"Australia Post is doing the right thing for its small business customers by reversing this decision.

"Now is the time to be working together to identify what the problems are and to find solutions to make a pathway forward.

"Let’s roll up our sleeves so that we can achieve a much better outcome for e-commerce powered small businesses who rely on Australia Post to fulfil their orders."

Read how Billson reacted to the initial Australia Post move, here

Billson is due to meet with Australia Post next week and then again with the broader industry group in May.

He will collaborate with his state-based Small Business Commissioner colleagues "to ensure their valuable perspective and regulatory insights are part of the problem-solving approach".

Regular sessions are to be held with key regulatory bodies, government agencies and e-commerce representatives to work towards a resolution.

It is understood ending perishable goods moves was being considered before the Covid-19 pandemic hit and was shelved at a very senior level as lockdowns began before going back on the boil this year.

ATN has sought details from Australia Post on what moves were made, when and by whom.

According to Australia Post, the forum will also have representatives from industry bodies, the small business sector and producers to find possible solutions to the complex regulatory requirements for moving these goods through the delivery network.

Its acting group CEO and MD, Rodney Boys, says this is "an important and complex landscape that is best approached by working closely with customers, industry bodies and regulators".

"We recognise the original date for ceasing perishable transport through our network would cause significant disruption to small businesses, many who have experienced significant growth in e-commerce sales during Covid-19," Boys continues.

"Through this new forum, we will better understand what our customer capabilities and needs are and work hand-in-hand with regulators to determine, where changes may be required.

"I am so pleased Bruce Billson has agreed to co-chair this forum with Australia Post to develop a long-term, sustainable solution to support this growing e-commerce industry."


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