The following is a speech made in Parliament by Federal Member for Bonner Ross Vasta.
I rise tonight to advise the House of the recently announced plans by Australia Post to relocate its Carindale Post Office, which is in my electorate of Bonner. The post office is currently located within Westfield Carindale shopping centre. Australia Post has confirmed that it intends to relocate to Metropol Shopping Centre, three kilometres from its existing location. The relocation is expected to occur by mid-April and will include the transfer of all post office boxes to the new site. This site currently attracts upward of 700 to 1,000 Australia Post customers daily and is especially convenient to the seniors community of Carindale, who regularly use the shop as a way to pay their bills. Essentially, this now means there will no longer be a post office in Carindale. Indeed, it will move entirely outside the boundaries of the Bonner electorate. In real terms, it means that all Carindale residents—and countless businesses and community groups—will be robbed of the convenience of a post office.
I am sure the members of this House will concur that it is extremely disappointing that Australia Post would make such an arbitrary decision about the future of this vital community facility without consultation with the Carindale community, businesses or any other stakeholders, such as my office. As the federal member, I felt it my moral and practical obligation to let the residents of Carindale know about Australia Post’s proposed move. In February I sent out a direct mail letter to the entire suburb of Carindale, offering them the opportunity to have their say on the move, with the ultimate aim of presenting my overall findings to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and also to Australia Post decision makers. I have subsequently done so.
To date, we have received an enormous 1,177 responses. I thank the residents of Carindale. Nine hundred and sixty two, or 82 per cent, of Carindale residents who responded are against the move. Only a meagre 18 per cent are for the move to Metropol. Most of those for the move cite parking considerations as the reason for the move, which, in itself, is extremely concerning, as the current Westfield location boasts over 6,000 car parks. There are a paltry 170 [figure ?] car parks at Metropol. Furthermore, access to the site is not adequately serviced by appropriate public transport routes. But, as Stan Rawlings, chairman of the Residents Committee at Carindale Aveo Aged Care Community, points out, public transport is impractical when you are 80 and need assistance walking.
It has since come to my attention that the lease signed by Australia Post at Metropol is irrevocable. In my mind that does not change anything. Australia Post must have a presence at Carindale. I cannot and will not accept an alternative scenario. In my often robust negotiations with Australia Post they have defended their actions by saying they were left with no alternative by Westfield Carindale, who issued them with a non-renewal notice after the single tenancy offered to Australia Post was repeatedly rejected due to unsuitability of its location. They further advised me that no other option was formally presented to them for consideration. It is disappointing that Westfield appears to have made a commercial decision rather than a community one.
Regardless of whose fault it is, I am sure the members of this House will concur that these results clearly demonstrate that the residents of Carindale are overwhelmingly against any relocation of the Carindale Post Office. Put it this way: if the members of this House ignored the wishes of 82 per cent of their constituency we would not have a job, and deservedly so. It begs the question: why would Australia Post—and Westfield Carindale, for that matter—go against the wishes of their core customers?
There may be some light at the end of the tunnel. In response to my advocacy to them on behalf of the Carindale community, Australia Post are now investigating alternative options, to preserve their presence at Westfield. I welcome this show of progress and congratulate them on listening to their Carindale customers. I also thank my colleagues Councillor Adrian Schrinner and Steve Minnikin MP, who are behind me on this important community issue. Westfield Carindale has long been a one-stop shop for the community, offering important facilities such as a council library, a Medicare and Family Assistance office, medical facilities, banking services and a post office. That is essential, and it must remain that way.