Mail plan alarming for rural contractors

Gavin Free
Gavin Free

A Leeston mail contractor says dropping the frequency of mail services could finish rural mail.

The national president of the Rural Delivery Contractors Association, Gavin Free, said anything under five-day delivery would not be viable.

Despite being as busy as ever on his six-day-a-week mail run, Mr Free could potentially be affected by New Zealand Post's proposed changes to the deed of understanding.

The current deed, set in 1998, has a minimum delivery of six days a week for 95 per cent of New Zealand, but the proposed change would set the minimum at just three. New Zealand Post is seeking flexibility for the future, and says there are no immediate plans to reduce delivery frequency - but the future of daily mail is uncertain.

New Zealand Post statistics show national volumes have dropped 24 per cent over the last decade, and are forecast to drop another 25 per cent over the next five years.

However, Mr Free says his volume has not dropped over the last 12 months. He said a drop in delivery days would be disastrous for his own business, but also the many clients on his run who rely on daily deliveries and pickups for courier parcels, time-critical mail, the paper, urgent machinery parts and groceries.

"Who is going to want to get the last three days' papers on one day?"

Many rural households do not have broadband and struggle to manage tasks online, so rely heavily on mail.

Mr Free is also concerned about the social loss. He said mail contractors are the eyes and ears of the community, checking on the elderly, keeping an eye on someone's house when they are away, delivering community notices at no charge, and dropping off the odd bottle of milk.

New Zealand Post has ruled out a receiver-pays rural delivery fee for basic postal services.

The proposal to trim postal deliveries is currently open for submissions.

Gavin Free
Gavin Free

(Live Matches)