Australia Post

From Academic Kids

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Australia Post is the government-owned monopoly postal service of Australia.



The first postmaster of Sydney was an ex-convict, Isaac Nichols, who took the post in 1809, and postal services grew throughout the Australian colonies as they were established. A regular Sydney-Melbourne overland service began in 1838, as did the issuance of prepaid postage stamps, and by 1849 uniform postal rates were established by agreement between the colonies. Monthly steamship sea mail to the United Kingdom was established in 1856. The separate colonies joined the Universal Postal Union in 1891.

In 1901, the colonial mail systems were merged into the Postmaster-General's Department (or PMG). This body was responsible for telegraph and domestic telephone operations as well as postal mail. According to Australia Post, their Sydney Mail Exchange introduced mechanical mail-handling equipment in 1930, and was the first service in the world to do so.

On July 1, 1975, separate government commissions were created to undertake the operational responsibilities of the PMG. One of these was the Australian Postal Commission, trading as Australia Post. It later changed its name to the Australian Postal Corporation on January 1, 1989 when it was corporatised, although it still trades as Australia Post.

Over the past 20 years, the organisation has gradually been placed at greater and greater arms length from government.

Current activities

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Express (yellow) and Normal (red) post boxes

While remaining government-owned, and with a monopoly over standard letter delivery, the organisation's activities outside standard letter delivery have become steadily more entrepreneurial, selling a wide range of nominally postal-related goods such as cards, gifts, and stationery. However, perhaps its biggest non-traditional business has been its bill payments service, where a large selection of financial institutions, insurance companies, government departments, utility companies, and others support transactions through Australia Post's extensive branch network.

While many Federal and state-government-owned utilities have been privatised in Australia over the past two decades (such as the various energy companies, the Commonwealth Bank, and Qantas), Australia Post has remained in government hands. Its excellent reputation in the community, its ability to deliver its basic services reliably and at stable prices (standard letter prices have increased only 10% over the decade, a substantial reduction when inflation is taken into account), and the convenience of the transaction services offered through the branch network, make it doubtful that privatisation, or removal of Australia Post's monopoly on basic letters, will occur in the foreseeable future.

See also

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