Transcript - interview with Peter Stefanovic - Sky News

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Daily letter deliveries will soon become a thing of the past. The Federal Government will today announce that Australia Post will shift to letter and unaddressed mail deliveries every second day. So, not every day, every second day. It follows a $200 million loss by the postal service in the last financial year, as well as a 66 per cent decline in letter delivery volume since 2008.

Australia Post says more parcels will be delivered every day, ensuring no posties will lose their jobs. On that note, let's bring in the Communications Minister, Michelle Rowland. Michelle, good to see you. So, snail mail getting a whole lot slower for the humble written letter now?

MICHELLE ROWLAND, MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: I think it's important to recognise that Australia Post is a cherished national institution. But of course, the needs of consumers and small businesses have drastically changed over the years. Currently, the postie will go past just about every person's house every day, but the average person now receives only around two letters per week.

In contrast, the parcels business is booming. It is a highly competitive sector as well, and it is one in which we want Australia Post to succeed and respond to the needs of Australians. What we are announcing today is that letter services will actually be put out so it’s every second day, but parcels will be delivered every day – as well as other express post and priority mail services.

This is responding to the changing needs of consumers, of small businesses, and it comes after extensive consultation that we have conducted. I should really commend the workers of Australia Post who've worked constructively with the organisation to devise this new delivery model to improve the productivity of their services all round.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, is this the beginning of a move to privatise Australia Post or parts of it?

ROWLAND: Absolutely not. As we committed earlier in the year in our consultation paper: Australia Post under a Labor Government will never be privatised. In fact, to the exact opposite. We recognise how important Australia Post is and the community service obligations that it provides, especially in rural and regional areas, where often Australia Post is not only the post office, it's the general store, the newsagent and, in many cases, provides the only banking service that is available.

We want Australia Post to be more productive. Exactly as you said, it has reported a $200 million loss. Doing nothing is not an option. But we want to bring the workforce with us, respond to the changing needs of Australians and ensure that Australia Post stays strong into the future.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, so Australia Post is still viable is what you're saying, in 2023?

ROWLAND: It is absolutely viable this year and into the future. We've seen around the world that Government-sponsored postal services are failing. We will not let that happen to Australia Post. The way that we ensure its sustainability is by making changes. This is an important but necessary step that recognises the changing needs of consumers, the fact that letters are in unstoppable decline, but the parcels business continues to boom. Responding to that is our priority with these regulatory changes.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, just moving on, Michelle, and for some clarification purposes here, the bill, the detainee bill that passed the Senate last night. Is that moving to the House today or tomorrow?

ROWLAND: We expect that this will go to the House today and, if possible, with the support of the Opposition, be capable of being passed today and being law by the end of the week.

STEFANOVIC: All right. Why did Labor reject the Coalition amendment that makes the reason for a detainee's release public?

ROWLAND: We have maintained very strongly that it's important to have this preventative detention scheme in place. This has been devised with regard to the reasons that were only handed down last week, with respect to this High Court case. It is not one that we desired and it's certainly one that we opposed. But we are where we are, and we have devised a scheme which has gone through the Senate, which we want to get passed expeditiously through the House this afternoon because we recognise the importance of getting this done.

STEFANOVIC: Dan Tehan was on the programme a little earlier and he says they're going to push for this amendment again, that makes the reason for a detainee’s release public. I mean, what's unreasonable about that?

ROWLAND: He is welcome to make that case, but the fact is that we have taken advice on this matter. I know that my colleagues, Minister O'Neil and Minister Giles will have more to say on this as this goes through the House, but we've been very clear that we need this passed expeditiously.

STEFANOVIC: All right, Michelle, we'll leave it there. Thanks for your time.