Australia Post may lose its passport business in 2017 as the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has announced that it is exploring different avenues to offer passport application services. DFAT’s current contract with Australia Post expires in mid-2017.
The overhaul of the government’s passport application system is in response to increasing passport application numbers. In 2014 to 2015 the number of Australian passport applications was 1.8 million and is expected to grow to three million by 2019. The government is currently deciding whether it will overhaul the system to include online passport application systems and whether several companies will be contracted to provide the service.
Australia Post released a media statement in response to this news stating that, “As one of the most trusted brands in Australia, with an unmatched retail network, Australia Post is uniquely positioned to continue to provide efficient and reliable passport services for the federal government.
“For more than 30 years Australia Post has been providing passport services across our national post office network. Consumers trust us with their identity and personal data. Our national network of more than 4,000 post offices plays a vital role, especially in regional and remote Australia, in providing essential services for customers.”
According to the Post Office Agents Association Limited (POAAL), the national representative association for small business owners in the postal sector, rural Australians will suffer if Australia Post loses the contract to perform passport interviews.
“Australia Post has an unmatched network of post offices delivering passport services to all parts of the country, including rural areas,” said POAAL director Bob Chizzoniti.
POAAL also believes that licensed post offices (LPOs) would also miss out if Australia Post loses the contract. “Passport interviews are an important business stream for LPOs,” said Chizzoniti. “It’s not just about the fee for performing the interview, it’s about all the ancillary business that comes along with it. LPOs are one-stop shops for Australians heading overseas. Customers can buy travel insurance, order foreign currency, set up travel debit cards, buy travel SIM cards, and much more.”
Currently, 900 LPOs offer passport services on behalf of DFAT. POAAL would like to see this extended to all LPOs, giving customers greater access to passport services to all Australians, regardless of where they’re located.
“As the number of Australian passport transactions is expected to increase, the network of post offices offering passport services should also increase,” said Chizzoniti.
March 23, 2016