Australia Post backtracks on food ban
In a big win for small business, Australia Post has already backed down just days after it was announced that the taxpayer-owned postal service would stop delivering perishable goods from June 30 this year. It will now continue to ship perishable goods across the country, working collaboratively with Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson to find the solutions required to support small business food producers.
An industry working forum, to be co-chaired by Billson, has been formed to resolve cross-state regulatory issues surrounding the shipping of perishable goods. The forum will also have representatives from industry bodies, the small business sector and producers to find solutions to the regulatory requirements for moving goods through the delivery network.
Billson says the decision will bring “joyful relief” to small business food producers, and has welcomed the invitation to co-chair the forum.
“I look forward to working closely with Australia Post and all relevant stakeholders to ensure small businesses can continue to count on these essential delivery services,” he says.
“Small business food producers, especially those in regional areas, are breathing a huge sigh of relief today that they can continue doing what they do best – growing their business – with confidence that their goods will be delivered by Australia Post.”
Billson points out that Australia Post had positioned itself as the delivery partner to small businesses and family enterprises, particularly to those businesses that moved to selling their products online as a result of the COVID crisis – a partnership that benefited both sides of the relationship, as well as consumers.
“It was not right to unilaterally declare an end to vital delivery services to the detriment of these small businesses and the customers who depend on them,” he says. “Australia Post is doing the right thing for its small business customers by reversing this decision.”
The ombudsman will meet with Australia Post next week and then again with the broader industry group in May. Billson will collaborate closely with his state-based Small Business Commissioner colleagues to ensure their perspective and regulatory insights are part of the problem-solving approach. Regular sessions will also be held with key regulatory bodies, government agencies and e-commerce representatives to work towards a resolution.
“Now is the time to be working together to identify what the problems are and to find solutions to make a pathway forward,” Billson says. “Let’s roll up our sleeves so that we can achieve a much better outcome for e-commerce-powered small businesses who rely on Australia Post to fulfil their orders.”