Advances in Regulatory Economics series
Edited by Michael A. Crew, Paul R. Kleindofer and James I. Campbell Jr
Chapter 22: Postal Reform in Australia
Chris Paterson† INTRODUCTION For almost twenty years the postal system within Australia has undergone a process of continual reform. The need for this reform has been underlined by the emergence of an increasingly dynamic postal landscape. Until the early 1990s, changes in Australian mail volumes correlated highly with ﬂuctuations in the level of domestic economic activity. In subsequent years, electronic substitution, mail rationalization, and consolidation have challenged this traditional relationship. In addition, the wider mail market is now exposed to signiﬁcant growth in online fulﬁllment services and increasing acceptance and penetration of direct mail. These factors have created new challenges and opportunities while also redeﬁning the industry’s main players. Against this backdrop, Australia Post has transformed itself through a mix of competition, opportunity, and regulation to become, by international standards, one of the best-performing postal organizations. Reform within Australia has, however, been tempered by an acknowledgment of the real diﬃculties in reconciling the commercial and social responsibilities of the nation’s postal operator, Australia Post. Under Section 27 of the Australian Postal Corporation Act, Australia Post is required to deliver standard-sized letters to all but the most remote parts of Australia even if the costs of delivery exceed revenue. This relatively onerous requirement in honoring its universal service obligation (USO) represents a distinct point of diﬀerence when contrasting the Australian case to most other postal authorities in the developed world. Similarities may, however, be drawn with Canada and Sweden. In the case of the former, an...
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