This article was published by The Age on October 25, 2013.
Despite its New Zealand counterpart reducing delivery services, Australia Post will retain its current volumes of letter and parcel delivery.
The New Zealand government will allow NZ Post to deliver letters only three days a week amid a decline in "snail mail" volumes blamed on alternatives such as emails and texts.
NZ Post chairman Michael Cullen said the state-owned body had to act to remain viable, conceding the plan was likely to involve "significant" job losses.
"Unfortunately the rate of decline has been accelerating, we're now seeing letters go down by over 8 per cent per annum and the underlying trend is clear," he told Radio New Zealand.
But a spokeswoman for Australia Post told Fairfax Media the company is comfortably adapting to the changes brought by the digital revolution, and continuing to remain viable.
"The growth in online shopping makes it a good area to invest in," she said. "We are balancing loss in letters business. Certainly at this stage we are not looking at going way New Zealand Post is."
A spokesperson for Australian Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said there were no planned changes to Australia Post's regulatory framework.
But Australia Post, who last week announced a $312 million profit for the financial year to 2013, said it was implementing its own changes to prevent it following the fate of New Zealand Post.
"Our posties deliver letters, and we're now helping them to deliver smaller parcels," said the Australia Post spokeswoman. "We're getting them used to new world of online shopping."
But according to the Communications Electrical Plumbing Union, who claimed to represent "most" of Australia Post's approximately 32,000 workers, the company had already made cuts.
"They are reducing services," said CEPU State Secretary Joan Doyle. "They've just announced they want to go to the bare minimal legal service in country areas, which is second day delivery and only 94 per cent of deliveries on time. At the moment, we are really campaigning to get politicians to step in to stop country Victoria getting its service standard reduced."
Australia Post rejected the CEPU's claims, saying it was undergoing a consultation process about ways to offset the losses of its letters business, but no decisions had been made yet.
"We are looking at options on how to make the business sustainable," said the spokeswoman. "One of those is making changes to mail processing in regional areas. But there are no changes to service standard."
Fairfax reported last week that Australia Post chief executive Ahmed Fahour said the company needed to make ongoing changes to overcome losses from its letter business.
NZ Post, which was formed in the 1850s, currently delivers mail six days a week, with Sunday the only rest day.
But it has received permission from the government to cut back to three days in mid-2015 in a bid to contain costs.
"[It] reflects the need to balance the immediate interests of postal users with the longer term need for greater flexibility for New Zealand Post, given the dramatic reduction in the volume of postal items over the past 11 years," New Zealand Communications Minister Amy Adams said.
Cullen said it was too early to predict how many jobs would be lost but unions said about 1000 positions were at risk.
He said digital technology had triggered a "very rapid" fall in the number of items mailed, as customers sent messages and received bills electronically, casting a pall over the future of physical mail.
"I really can't predict at what time we may be looking at really a residual kind of postal business," he said.
"Nobody knows that around the world. Every postal company in the world is facing exactly the same problem."
NZ Post has expanded into courier and banking services over the past decade, allowing it to turn a $NZ121 million ($105 million) profit in the 12 months to June 2013, despite the fall in traditional mail.
The growth in courier parcel deliveries fuelled by online shopping has helped postal services in some countries offset losses incurred by mail services.
But Cullen said competition with private operators in the New Zealand courier market was extremely keen, meaning parcel deliveries could not "pick up the slack" from other parts of the business.
Toni Brient is an intern at The Age.