Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (18:01): The report of the Australian Postal Corporation, Australia Post, for 2012-13 includes a statement of corporate intent 2013-14 to 2016-17. Australia Post is a fine Australian establishment that has for decades done very good work in delivering the mail. Senators would be aware that Australia Post is concerned at the state of its letter business. With increases in the use of email and other forms of communication, Australians are not posting as many letters as they used to, and this is having an impact on Australia Post's financial situation.
Australia Post is a government business enterprise and, because of that, it is not subject to state and local government laws, particularly planning laws. For some years I have been working for a group of people in Elphinstone Street in Rockhampton who are having a very difficult time because of the activities at the Australia Post mail centre, which has trucks coming and going and forklifts operating at all hours of the day and night. I acknowledge that Australia Post have tried to address the situation, but nothing they do helps. Their best attempts have not resulted in the neighbours of the mail centre getting a decent night's sleep. Some years ago the people concerned gave me some video evidence of the noise at three, four, five and six o'clock in the morning, and it was simply intolerable. These are older people who have lived in this area for a long time, long before Australia Post's use of that site changed from operating a suburban post office to being a major mail centre.
I have pursued this matter at a number of estimates committee hearings. I have been in touch with the Rockhampton City Council. There is a new industrial estate in Rockhampton that would welcome Australia Post moving out there, where they could build a state-of-the-art mail centre. They could sell their existing premises at what I believe would be a good financial profit. The neighbours would then be able to get a decent night's sleep and Australia Post would have a state-of-the-art centre.
My point is that, although government business enterprises are not required to follow council by-laws and planning laws, they should. I remember particularly that it was always the wish of the Howard government that, notwithstanding the fact that they were not required to follow council planning laws, they should as good corporate citizens comply with town planning laws. The Rockhampton Regional Council have told me that this would mean that Australia Post would not be able to operate that business in that residential area. I have mentioned this in a number of estimates hearings to Mr Fahour from Australia Post. On one occasion, when they were spending a lot of money in Queensland on capital infrastructure, he led me to believe that they were going to do something about it; nothing has happened.
I again urge Australia Post to act as a good corporate citizen and follow the by-laws of the Rockhampton Regional Council. That means moving the mail centre to a more appropriate place that does not interfere with the health, comfort, safety and, I might say, sleep time for those residents who have lived in that area since long before Australia Post changed its use of that particular piece of land.
Question agreed to.