Last week, Australia Post confirmed it would be recommencing shipping of interstate perishable goods after previously halting the delivery.
This week, Mr Billson has walked away from his first meeting with Australia Post to make a “collaborative effort” in resolving any issues with the delivery of perishable goods as a way to help support small business food producers.
“This initial meeting with Australia Post gives me confidence that we can work together to identify what the problems are and to find solutions to make a pathway forward,” Mr Billson confirmed.
“My office has made it clear to Australia Post that many small business food producers, especially those in regional areas, are reliant on the continuation of postage services to fulfil their orders.
“Australia Post has demonstrated a willingness to work through issues in its delivery network, including ongoing discussions with industry regulators. My state-based small business commissioner colleagues are also well placed to play a key role in this problem-solving process if it is a matter of complex and differing food regulation requirements across the states.
“It’s vital we all roll up our sleeves to achieve an outcome that provides e-commerce-enabled small businesses with the confidence that their good will be delivered by Australia Post.”
Looking ahead, Mr Billson said there are several undertakings to do before a forum next month.
“Our next steps include identifying case studies, finalising plans for consultation and forming an industry working forum to meet in May,” he said.
“Ensuring regulatory bodies, government agencies and e-commerce representatives are at the table to work towards a resolution to this important issue is necessary.
“In the meantime, my office is encouraging small business food producers who rely on Australia Post’s delivery services to get in contact with my office, as we want to make sure they are a meaningful part of this conversation.
“Ultimately, this thorough consultation process is both about resolving the issues Australia Post identifies as well as ensuring essential services such as postage of goods are meeting the needs of small business food producers.”
Following Australia Post confirming it would resume shipping of perishable goods, Business NSW, formerly known as NSW Business Chamber, congratulated the move, saying any halting of the deliveries would likely “cripple businesses who had embraced e-commerce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
“It’s easy to be critical of these types of decisions, so when an organisation like Australia Post listens to the community, we should give them a pat on the back,” said Business NSW CEO Nola Watson.
Going forward, Ms Watson called on the government to address the challenges the small business community faces and make them a key priority.
“At a time when we are encouraging businesses to serve customers online and meet demand from across the country, as well as globally, excessive compliance and regulatory costs stand in the way of those goals being reached,” she said.
“At a future national cabinet, ministers should focus their attention on removing these obstacles and enabling mutually recognised regulation so that businesses are able to grow and reach customers wherever they may be.”