John Singleton, “Two novel views for the price of one,” The Australian, March 2, 1977, p. 8, in the “Forum” box, which is a featured opinion piece or letter to the editor, on the same page as the editorial and the letters to the editor. The title, “Two novel views for the price of one,” refers to the two different parts below.
Well, the deadly Post Office has struck again.
Its chairman, Jim Kennedy, has said that increased charges are again inevitable.
It is anticipated that it will cost 20 cents to mail a letter this year.
That’s the good news from those wonderful folk who in the past three years have doubled their prices and halved their services and still manage to make a loss.
And when Australia Post actually decided to do a review to see if there were any inefficiencies — seriously! — their union stopped work.
It is not known if anyone noticed.
But what is known is that the Post Office is the biggest single waste of our money in Australia.
130,372 people work for Australia Post and Telecom Australia which is 45 per cent of all Federal Government employees. They pay no company tax, no local government rates, no payroll tax, no sales tax, no customs or excise tax, no motor vehicle registration fees, and it is illegal for anyone to compete with them.
There should be just no way that under those conditions anyone can lose money. Except the Post Office.
And the solution won’t come from raising the price of the stamps. It will come only from charging less when it costs less as in sending a letter half a mile. And charging more when it costs more, like sending a letter from Sydney to Perth.
There is absolutely no justification for the fact that people living in the cities have to subsidise the mail of people living in the bush — unless the bushies would like to subsidise the city rates and land prices.
But the real answer for Mr Jim Kennedy is to get on the phone to Sir Peter Abeles at TNT, Gordon Barton at IPEC, Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Packer, and ask them if they’d like to compete with the Post Office. Then he should legalise every courier service that is already operating illegally.
You might have noticed that Messrs Packer and Murdoch have no trouble getting their papers and magazines all around the place on the same day they are printed. It’s a long time, too, since TNT or IPEC took more than a day to deliver anything anywhere.
Within 12 months the Post Office would disappear up its own letterbox.
But instead, the commission looks at compounding the problem by increasing the postal charges.
Instead the Government spends months and years sitting around working out laws to stop private monopolies without stopping for even a second to realise that the only monopolies in Australia are their own, and that the best and worst example of them all is the Post Office.
Send a letter to Jim Kennedy and tell him what you think of his postal service.
And don’t put a stamp on it.
It’s a pity Neville Wran doesn’t spend all his time doing TV interviews, at which he is good.
Unfortunately, he also spends some of his time pushing ratbag legislation through to his beloved Upper House, which knocks it back, anyway (even though the odds are about 100-1 on, the Honourable members have no ideas what they are approving or rejecting in any event).
Right at this very moment, for example, there is an especially bad piece of well-meaning lunacy before the Upper House in Neville Wran’s anti-discrimination Bill.
If you take the trouble to struggle through all 65 pages of the bill you realise just how futile the whole exercise is.
I suppose that originally someone thought it wasn’t nice the way some people don’t like Jews or the ways some Jews don’t like Arabs and so forth. And so some poor idiot decided that there should be a law against it.
And some poor dragon lady decided that women weren’t getting a fair go in the digging-the-roads department and decided there should be a law about that, too.
And so we get the bill.
It says that we can no longer discriminate on the grounds of race, sex, marital status, age, religion or political convictions, physical handicap or condition, mental disability or homosexuality.
And for those with a legal mind discrimination is defined as when you treat someone “less favourably” than another (whatever that means).
The real idiocy is that every time each of us makes any decisions we discriminate. We decide to do this instead of that. Marry this one instead of that one. Vote for Wran instead of Sir Eric Willis.
And so, sooner or later, such a law will put us all at the mercy of the Anti-Discrimination Board or the Counsellor for Equal Opportunity. With God-given powers to fine us as much as $20,000 it should be quite a job for someone with a sense of humour.
We will have four-stone weaklings driving lift trucks, Children of God fanatics in the nunnery, Bob Hawke getting pre-selection for Vaucluse Young Liberals, and Don Dunstan playing prop for Newtown.
It should, of course, be obvious even to politicians that no legislation can make people like one another. In fact, the more laws there are against discrimination the more likely it is to promote, rather than eliminate, hatred.
The anti-discrimination legislation will simply be used by some people to gain something from someone else that they wouldn’t have otherwise got.
But politicians don’t care for logic or commonsense. If anything is going to win a vote they pass a law about it and we’re stuck with that law for ever and a day.
It seems a pity, when Wran and Attorney-General Frank Walker are doing such a good job removing so many useless laws related to victimless crimes, that they should undo so much of the work by screwing around with a new law that is as dumb as all the others combined and just as dangerous.
After all, the only reason that Neville Wran got to be Premier in the first place is because we chose him ahead of Sir Eric Willis, mainly on the basis of Sir Eric’s looks.
Maybe Sir Eric can take all us voters to court for having discriminated against his appearance as soon as Wran gets the bill through.
It’s about the best chance he has.
(Mr Singleton is managing director of a national advertising agency.)
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