Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Blogging for government small business policy change

Mark Fletcher
December 28th, 2006 · 7 Comments

I have sent this letter to the Federal Minister for Small Business today in response to her inadequate response on Australia Post – see my earlier post today. I’m not confident of a considered original response. Here are what I consider to be the key points in this letter:

In 1999, your Government facilitated the deregulation of newsagencies. You took away our exclusivity and allowed others to cherry pick our top selling magazines and newspapers. As a result, newsagencies like mine have been left with a supply model which is fundamentally flawed and a significantly higher customer acquisition cost. Your deregulation has left newsagents severely disadvantaged.

I agree that deregulation of the supply of newspapers and magazines was appropriate. However, since you did not put in place any review process, you do not have data to show what a mistake you made and how much you have hurt this small business channel. Good governance requires you review the impact of such significant deregulation on the 4,600 family businesses affected.

Australia Post has seized on the deregulation you brought about and now your Government is profiting from these regulatory changes.

While Ministers in the Government say it’s an Australia Post issue and that they will not meddle, I say it’s a policy problem which they created:

Australia Post is selling products which fall way outside what is permitted under the Act. Their Last minute gifts catalogue, which was released December 4, provides proof. I have enclosed a copy for your information.

Australia Post is looking more like a newsagency every day. Newsagents cannot compete because we do not have the exclusive postal product which drives people to Post Offices. Australia Post is abusing its exclusive postal products and government ownership to the detriment of small business newsagents.

These are policy matters and go to heart of the Government’s small business credentials. I urge you to act for your small business constituents and not just an enterprise the Government wholly owns.

I know I go on about Australia Post a lot in this place. These are not the ranting of a lunatic. Rather, they are valid complaints by someone who feels the impact of a flawed Government policy and can see that it will cost jobs in small businesses.

Is anyone listening?

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Category: Australia Post · Newsagency challenges

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Angelo // Dec 28, 2006 at 1:13 PM

    Mark,

    I don’t think anyone is under the impression you go on about this. Rather, I am very glad that you do. Your points are well balanced and direct to the point. Since taking ownership of our Newsgency in Jindabyne we have made great improvements to our business in just about every department however we have an Aus. Post outlet less than 100 metres away.
    Their range of stock is not perhaps as extravagant as the one I have seen that is near your shop however we would be doing even better without it. I sell a lot of pre-paid mobile phones and stock virtually the same range as the Post Office. My display is far better than theirs, is more informative about the respective phones and I don’t mind boasting that our customer service is far better and regularly complimented upon. However on more than a few occasions I lose out on the sale as it would seem that the customer seems to trust Australia Post more with Mobile phones. Perhaps this will change with time and I will be doing my best to make it so.
    I will be writing to Senator Coonan shortly to air my grievances as well. I would urge every other Newsagent that is affected to do the same.
    Good on you Mark for getting into them!
    Cheers,
    Angelo Giuffre
    Jindabyne Newsagency

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  • 2 mark fletcher // Dec 28, 2006 at 2:46 PM

    Thanks Angelo. At the heart of my complaint is that they use this governmnt protected and nurtured brand to land people in their stores for far less than ours. We had this once but no more. Okay, that’s competiton. Where is comptition for them? It’s unjust and makes a mockery of small business policy. Mark

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  • 3 Clem // Dec 29, 2006 at 7:53 AM

    Our local newsagent is too lazy to get mobile phones in, and will not take the risk with low margin items like this. If the post office didn’t have them, people would have to drive 65 kms to get one. The newsagents are not cohesive in what they offer, and mostly they will only do items on at least 100% markup, aside from the newsapapers/magazines and lotteries (which other shops don’t seem to be able to sell????). That 100% statement was made by the previous owner of our local newsagent who has now retired very comfortably off thank you.

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  • 4 crystal // Dec 29, 2006 at 9:48 AM

    I am going to print your post and attach to a letter of complaint to my federal member, Catherine King.

    I HATE the way Post Offices have turned into toyshops. HATE it.
    They should at least open on Saturdays if they are not going to be ‘A Proper Post Office’.
    So far, the only way I can show my disgust, is to make sure that I only purchase from them the traditional postal services.

    Thanks for explaining to me how this came about.

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  • 5 mark fletcher // Dec 29, 2006 at 10:33 AM

    Clem, Your experience is not common. Don’t judge the channel by this. Our standard stationery markup is 80% on items we hold for 3 months or more and as low as 30% of short shelf life items. Moth of what we sell we do not control the price of – it’s set by suppliers.

    Newsagents are doing it tough because their model was built around an exclusive range and that was taken from them without compensation in 1999.

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  • 6 stirrer // Jan 15, 2007 at 2:29 PM

    Mark

    Have you considered raising your concerns with the bureaucrats, rather than the politicians?

    It’s the role of the body below to investigate such complaints about govt business enterprises, whereas for a minister to acknowledge a problem, it often means he or she must admit that they’d failed to address it previously.

    Australian Government Competitive Neutrality Complaints Office
    PO Box 80
    BELCONNEN ACT 2616
    Telephone: (02) 6240 3377
    Facsimile: (02) 6253 0049
    Website: http://www.pc.gov.au/agcnco/

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  • 7 mark fletcher // Jan 15, 2007 at 3:15 PM

    Hi Stirrer, Yes I have several times. I plan to take this latest issue to them but I don’t hold much hope. Mark

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