By Wayne Robinson | August 17, 2022

As mail monopoly Australia Post continues to shift to parcels, printers and mailing houses are faced with the reality that neither its non-executive board nor its stakeholder council contains anyone with a background in matter of business mail or printing.

Concern over advice: Australia Post
Image – AusPost

Apart from CEO Paul Graham, AusPost’s board is non-executive and none have experience in mail or printing. Its president Lucio Di Bartolomeo comes from the world of logistics, as does vice-president Andrea Staines. The rest of the board is mostly made up of non-professional executives and academics, with some background in retail and government.

The Australia Post Stakeholder Council has one person who runs the small Post store in Middlemount (population 1,800), located in a remote inland region halfway between Mackay and Rockhampton, but apart from her, none of the nine council members has experience in printing or mail. , and most don’t have a business background either. There is a representative from the retail world and a representative from small business, but most have no tangible connection to the mail.

With direct mail, unaddressed mail and the formation of printed matter as a major part of AusPost’s letter business, many industry players are baffled that AusPost has no stakeholders of these sectors in its Stakeholder Council. A printer talking to Print21 said, “You’d think they’d have at least one of IVE’s big bosses there.”

While AusPost is clearly focused on parcels, mail is still a huge business and direct mail is set to see a revival as digital marketing fatigue sets in. Marketing gurus like Print21 Columnist Malcom Auld says DM is the best channel there is, but it’s gone out of style, but Auld says it’s “having a rebirth”. He said: “The response to DM is 1000 times greater than online, and online costs are skyrocketing. You marry a postcard with a QR code and a landing page for example, and the response rates are huge. The postcard creates the alert, the QR code takes you to the landing page, and there’s an order form.

The AusPost Stakeholder Council has five main areas of responsibility:

  • improve communication with Australia Post external stakeholders
  • improve external stakeholders’ understanding of Australia Post’s business and its portfolio of products and services
  • improve Australia Post’s understanding of stakeholder needs and expectations
  • improve Australia Post’s service and product initiatives through reviews and feedback
  • contribute, review and provide feedback on Australia Post’s major corporate responsibility initiatives.

Some in the printing and mailing industries draw parallels to turn-of-the-century newspaper publisher Fairfax, which had no one with any newspaper or publishing experience on its board, just when the Internet was beginning to take hold, especially in the rivers of golden classified ads. Fairfax’s board of directors, although aware of the rise of the internet, did nothing about it and consequently lost huge chunks of their revenue to, and, resulting in the contraction and eventual sale of the former Fairfax to Nine Entertainment.

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