July 22, 2017
Australia Post officials got a surprise on Friday when they visited Blackbutt and were met by Federal and State MPs, local councillors and a crowd of more than 40 residents.
What was intended to be a low-key visit to spruik Australia Post’s latest online offerings turned into a town meeting where Blackbutt residents had a chance to tell the visitors face-to-face how fed up they were with the town’s bizarre postcode.
The mini-protest was encouraged by Member for Maranoa David Littleproud who said he believed it was time Australia Post stopped stalling and agreed to residents’ demands for a postcode change.
At the moment semi-rural and rural Blackbutt and Benarkin – along with some other towns in the adjoining Somerset Region – share the same postcode as metropolitan Ipswich.
This affects insurance premiums and causes confusion with the delivery of some government services.
The postcode also causes difficulties for Ipswich residents, who can have problems obtaining home loans in their area because they are classed as rural by some banks.
The problems caused by the two radically different regions sharing a postcode have been known for years, Mr Littleproud said.
Now it was time for Australia Post to take action and fix it.
Australia Post’s Area Manager (South) for E-Commerce and Delivery Col James said Australia Post wasn’t responsible for how third parties used postcodes.
“We can’t dictate to other people how they can or can’t use them, and if they’re using them in a way that’s causing difficulty for something, maybe they should look at other means,” Mr James said.
He also said that Blackbutt’s mail was sorted in Brisbane, while South Burnett mail with a “46” prefix was sorted in Toowoomba.
Mr Littleproud said if this was the case, surely it would be more economical for Australia Post to tell its delivery drivers to travel the 14km from Yarraman to Blackbutt to drop off the mail than it would be to haul it from Ipswich.
State E-Commerce Manager Angela Creedon said it would be a difficult and expensive for Australia Post to change the postcode.
“There’d be a significant amount of IT work in the background,” Ms Creedon said.
Mr James also warned the process could take a long time and cause inconvenience to residents.
But Blackbutt residents at the meeting seemed happy to tolerate any inconvenience, if that’s what it would take to change the numbers.
One even suggested the town’s residents chip in money to help Australia Post out if they claimed the change would be too expensive.
“If we all put in $50, we’d get that back fast with the drop in our insurance premiums,” she said.
Another resident, Charles Gibling, said he had lived through a similar situation when he lived in Cornubia, where residents had also called for a postcode change.
“We argued we were not in Logan’s flood area and didn’t have the high traffic and crime rates Logan had, and I got about $150 back from my insurance companies in refunds as soon as our postcode changed,” Mr Gibling said.
“It may not be much but when you’re on a pension it makes a difference.”
He said the Cornubia postcode change took about a year from start to finish.
The meeting also heard the 4616 postcode was not being used and would put the area in line with Nanango, which has postcode 4615.
“We’re part of the South Burnett and all South Burnett towns have “46” postcodes,” Jeff Connor said.
Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said she was well aware of the postcode problem and agreed that Blackbutt residents had suffered unfairly for long enough.
“It is important to align Blackbutt with the rest of the South Burnett,” she said.
Somerset Regional Councillor Cheryl Gaedtke, who had only heard about the Blackbutt meeting the previous day, said the postcode problem also affected a number of towns in her region and caused similar problems.
Solving it would not only help Blackbutt and Benarkin but Moore, Linville and other Somerset towns as well, she said.
Ms Creedon told the crowd she would raise the issue with higher levels in Australia Post’s management, but warned the process could take six to eight weeks.
Mr Littleproud said he would contact Communications Minister Mitch Fifield and write to Australia Post to encourage a change.
On Friday night, Mr Littleproud told his Facebook followers he had sent a letter to the Federal Minister and to Australia Post’s CEO, and had phone calls with senior Australia Post officials and board members following the meeting.
Mr Littleproud also thanked everyone who had attended Friday morning’s Blackbutt gathering.
FOOTNOTE: Southern 4306 residents pushing for a change have organised a public meeting with Australia Post and Member for Ryan Jane Prentice at the Mt Crosby Bowls Club on Wednesday, July 26, at 6:00pm.