Address at Western Australia's new Australia Post Facility

ZANETA MASCARENHAS, MEMBER FOR SWAN: Hi, I'm Zaneta Mascarenhas, Federal Member for Swan. I'm here at Boorna Wangkiny Mia, an amazing new Australian Post facility which also means home of the message stick. I'm here with Michelle Rowland, the Minister for Communications, the CEO of Australian Post, Paul Graham, and my state colleague, Cassie Rowe. I'll now hand over to Michelle.

MICHELLE ROWLAND, MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: It's a real delight to be here to officially open this fantastic new facility for Australia Post. This is a great enabler for the people of Western Australia and for Australia Post to do what it does best, and that is to deliver for all Australians.

It is so important that Australia Post invests in the best IT, logistics and also focuses always on consumers, small businesses and microbusinesses, particularly here in Western Australia. Perth is the most, if not one of the most isolated capital cities in the world. And for that there is a special obligation on Australia Post to ensure that that connectivity is maintained. Hundreds of thousands of parcels are now being processed at this facility every day and that will only increase in the lead up Christmas.

I particularly want to thank all the workers of Australia Post who have done such a sterling job during the pandemic. Keeping us connected, keeping the parcels and the mail going. But also, a big thank you to all those workers who are doing their very best to ensure that Christmas does arrive for all Western Australians, and indeed all Australians. It is fantastic to see that this focus on parcels and ensuring that we have the very best technology is one that is felt right across this great state. It's wonderful to see that this continues to be a great focus at Australia Post as it develops into an organisation which continues to deliver for all Australians, particularly those in Western Australia. Particularly for the smaller microbusinesses of Western Australia.

MINISTER ROWLAND: Thank you, CEO Paul Graham

PAUL GRAHAM, CEO OF AUSTRALIA POST: Thank you Minister. It is great to be on the Boorna Wangkiny Mia, a new site, the first site that has dual naming. We will see as we scan the parcels on the site, that name. And hopefully it will prompt people top say "well what does that name mean" and look it up. And look I can only agree with the comments made by the Minister. It's a great investment. $85 million in our customers here in Western Australia, ensuring not only that we can get the parcels deliver on time, but also passion for the future. Without facilities being up and running, with the recent derailment activity that we've had, we would've really struggle to deliver for the communities in WA. But I'm glad that we're able to, in addition to that, we've also increased our air capacity and additional freighters come into the Perth market over the last couple of weeks to ensure a guarantee that consumers in Western Australia, small businesses in Western Australia, can ensure their products get to their customers and customers who are buying online to get those gifts for Christmas. But it's a great tribute to our people and the hard work that they have done to continue to serve, not only through the pandemic to the recent derailment and all the challenges that thrown out [indistinct]. I'd like to personally reach out and thank them for support. We've been around a long time, we continue to be around, our goal as always is to make sure that we represent the needs of the community and make sure we continue to adapt for the future of Australia Post and those [indistinct] goods and services.

JOURNALIST: [Indistinct] How confident are you that with those additional trucks in place that Christmas- online deliveries and parcels will arrive in time for Christmas?

GRAHAM: Look, we are quietly confident and when I mentioned freighters it is actually large aeroplanes in the sky. We've put additional planes on. We have a daily service to Perth on a normal basis for given the situation we've had an additional freighter to ensure that customers in Western Australia get their gifts for Christmas. We're quietly confident whilst there's still some challenges with the derailment and certainly customers would experience delays over the last couple of weeks. We are now back on the road delivering in the schedule and we hope that that continues right through to Christmas.

JOURNALIST: Is there a backlog and when will it clear?

GRAHAM: There is still a small backlog, but we are working hard every day to clear that. And we expect by the middle of December that will be fully cleared. We haven't halted our commitment to delivering for Christmas but as always, we encourage our customers and our merchants to send as early as you can to guarantee that Christmas delivery.

JOURNALIST: So what are the cut-off dates for people in WA? Have they missed the boat?

GRAHAM: No, they haven't missed the boat. The cut-off dates remain as the ones that we've published which is 16th of December. We want to ensure that they get their parcels in at that time frame. As I say, whilst we still have disruptions, we are able to continue moving product both into Western Australia, primarily on the road because obviously rail is still encumbered but also using that means to get parcels from Western Australia, particularly for small businesses who rely on the east coast sales to ensure that they have a good Christmas. So, we're confident that will be done and as always encourage people to shop early and to also get their parcels into Australia Post early so we can guarantee that.

JOURNALIST: So just how busy have you been this festive season so far? How many parcels are you delivering each day?

GRAHAM: We're delivering around 1.6.7 million parcels a day that will rank up. We have seen growth obviously through cyber sales and Black Friday and we saw a growth of about 6 per cent last year, which is encouraging. So we saw a growth in ecommerce of about 6 per cent which is encouraging. But we are seeing those taper off since those cyber events stopped and we expect in a late rush up to Christmas. It is unpredictable, as always what consumer habits will be. But we continue to process large volumes and I'm feeling pretty good about delivering for our customers.

JOURNALIST: How can people be confident that their Express Post parcels will be delivered on time? Do they go by air? Will they bypass those rail disruptions?

GRAHAM: Express Post is an important product and the name of the product says it all. People when they lodge that- use that service, they expect it to be delivered promptly in a very defined time frame. That's why we put on the air capacity in the Western Australia not just for Express Post coming out of the east but also people who are sending Express Posts out of Western Australia to get into the eastern state. So, an additional 747 freighter capacity has really brought an extra filler of volume that we can handle over and above what we normally do. Part of that was to do with derailment where we had obviously some gaps, but also to provide that ultimate guarantee that we're not going to leave any parcel undelivered.

JOURNALIST: Do you have a number of extra air freighters that you [indistinct] for that reason?

GRAHAM: We've increased our air fleet over the last twelve months in response to demand. But we've worked very closely with our partner, Qantas, who was able to get an aircraft that was due to start early in January, and we're able to use that for this period leading up to Christmas and get in the air quicker, specifically to service the Western Australia market.

JOURNALIST: How many flights does that do a day?

GRAHAM: Daily flights.

JOURNALIST: Okay, so this facility, how's that going to help WA? What's the difference of this facility compared to the old facilities?

GRAHAM: Purely the sheer volume it can handle. So, our old facility was a manual facility. We would not have been able to handle that huge rush that we saw because of the derailment. This facility, while it has some challenges, it has handled it extremely well. It is able to process to say, 170,000 parcels a day, which is an extraordinary amount. We've already achieved that and some days done a bit more. So it really brings 21st century modern infrastructure to Western Australia, allowing us to get parcels not only into the state on time, but out of the state and to be processed quickly so we can get them into not just metropolitan Perth, but throughout the whole State.

JOURNALIST: There is an AFP warning that went out to consumers, warning them about text message scams. So people saying “you have a parcel to pick up” but it turns out to be a scam. How can people expect to get parcel updates this season?

GRAHAM: Yes. Scamming unfortunately is a major issue at the moment, keynote brands such as Australia Post are being used because we resonate so strongly with consumers and we are seeing as a trusted brand and people are obviously abusing that trust. What we recommend to people is they check carefully the message to ensure that it comes from the Australia Post address. They look at the message in detail to ensure that it is authentic as it can be. If there is any doubt whatsoever not to do anything with that message. Call Australia Post, call our help desk and walk through what they've received, and we will validate whether it's a scam or indeed a genuine message. We do have it more often this time of year, not just the scamming but people getting messages because they receive a gift from a relative or friend that they wouldn't normally do. So heightened awareness is really, really important to ensure that people aren't taken advantage of.

JOURNALIST: Is it a matter of cross checking that tracking number?

GRAHAM: It's a cross checking that number to make sure it's genuine. It's also there are authenticators on our email that we point out in our website that you look for that specifies it is us. But again, if in doubt, don't push the button. Call our call centre and we will validate that it's a genuine message.

JOURNALIST: What's your view on the likelihood of people who have left it to the last minute to get international packages [indistinct]?

GRAHAM: It's hard to quantify, but again, we've been very clear on our communications to people who want to ship internationally, I mean my daughter lives in London, so I made sure we got our parcels off early to do that. We're still seeing some issue with capacity because whilst passenger flights are coming in, they are not at the capacity they were during pre-COVID. So, again, the lesson is, get in early, ship early and then we can guarantee that delivery.

JOURNALIST: So some people may have missed the boat to [indistinct].

GRAHAM: Well, if they haven't shipped today, then they're going to be struggling to get that parcel ready for Christmas.

JOURNALIST: Does Australia Post have enough workers to meet the demand?

GRAHAM: We have. We put out a search for about five and a half thousand extra people for our peak season, which is our normal request. Like everyone, we have struggled with getting labour in certain areas. Places like Queensland, for some reason have been much harder than other states. We recruited everybody we wanted to. We fell a couple of hundred shorts, but we believe we'll be able to get through them with that. But again, it's a great credibility to our team members and the efforts they make every day. And when they lifted the teams to really deliver for our customers and our communities.