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Of Dogs and Lampposts

Mark Edwards

Don't get caught between the dog and the lamppost, is a sage piece of advice.

The government owned Australia Post has really taken this advice to heart. Since the advent of the Internet and, more critically, email, Australia Post has appeared to be at the mercy of the declining use of mail as a means of delivering messages. The reality has been an organisation that is reinventing itself to be more than a mail carrier.

From the annual report available on the Australia Post website, their recent result for 2004-05 was another in a series of record profits.

This is despite the letters division's earnings falling almost 20% to $248.3 million.

The big gain was in the parcels and logistics business which increased its profit by almost 29 per cent to $184.8 million.

Australia Post chair Linda Nicholls said the impact of electronic substitution on the letters business was being felt globally.

According to a recent article in the AFR (October 12), in 1960, the letters share of the messaging market totalled almost 50 per cent but by last year it had shrunk to 14 per cent.

The bulk of that market is now dominated by transactional letters such as the mailing of accounts, bills, statements and cheques.

Social letters, postcards and private greetings amount to just 5 per cent of the market.

Any organisation that manages to record a record profit when their core business suffers an annual decline of 20% is well run in my opinion.

If John and Peter ever decide to sell it, I for one would be lining up for a piece.

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