Richard Moore: NZ Post to deliver bad news

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I really wish people wanting to make comments about major issues thought about matters before putting their two-bob's worth into the media.

In the past week we have had NZ Post indicating it is looking at reducing mail delivery days from the current six to just three. The move is to cut costs at a time when the amount of snail mail - non-electronic letters, postcards and the like - is dropping off faster than the antennae of a Blitz'emed gastropod.

With more people using email, and more firms using online billing, having the cheery postie cycling around our neighbourhoods six times a week is looking more endangered than a steak amid a pile of tofu burgers.

NZ Post's announcements sparked outrage among some groups - the elderly and rural folk - who are more likely than most to depend upon snail mail.

To me, three deliveries a week is neither here nor there on a convenience front. I have other issues about it.

But not so, the chief executive of BusinessNZ, Phil O'Reilly, who says he has no worries about the changes.

According to Mr O'Reilly, small and medium-sized businesses should suffer very little.

"Small businesses, like every other business, have been sending less and less physical mail for some time now.

"The fact that it's going from five or six days down to three or four, I don't think it will have any impact on businesses."

Okay Phil, I understand that viewpoint, although I'll suggest that trying to get things done with NZ businesses is slow enough without shoving extra roadblocks into the delivery system.

My main point of contention with Mr O'Reilly and his "it won't hurt us" view is this.

NZ Post employs about 7200 people, made up of 2200 posties and another 5000 jobs in its associated mail areas. That is quite a sizeable chunk of people depending upon NZ Post for their incomes.

If the organisation halves its delivery services then - and you can bet your house on this - it will also reduce its costs.

What does that mean? Well, one would suggest about 3000 to 3500 jobs. Across the country sure, but more likely in smaller rural areas where work is already at a premium.

So, my question to Mr O'Reilly is this. How does that not affect every single business - big, medium or small - in this country?

There will be 3000 fewer paypackets from which people can buy goods or services. That means that people will not spend as much and therefore all business owners will suffer as less goes through their tills.

That's just the near-term impact.

What happens when those businesses cut back because they are not making enough money? What happens when the major employer of NZ workers - small business - starts retrenching staff because fewer people are buying?

I'm sorry Mr O'Reilly, any job losses in this current economic climate are bad news. Massive job losses, as will happen in NZ Post, will be a disaster.

CRIKEY, what a moral dilemma Bethlehem College and its former student David Fellows have presented for us.

Fellows recently revealed he was illegally driving the school van in Kenya when it crashed, killing three members of his school party and the group's Kenyan driver, Christopher Mmata.

The driver was blamed for the deaths because it was thought, quite rightly, that he would have been behind the wheel in the storm at the time of the accident. In Kenya, people under 24 years cannot control the minibuses and there had been a major education campaign to that effect in the country. The school also had a rule that no students were to drive in Kenya.

But it wasn't until Fellows, 18, returned from Africa that it came out he was the driver.

I can't say I blame those who kept it in the dark - the idea of jails in Kenya is not pleasant and, if charged over the incident, Fellows may have been in one for some time as he waited for any court action.

However, honesty is supposed to be one of the key traits of Christianity and I am not sure that some involved in the incident, or in its alleged cover-up, could put their hands on their hearts - or the Bible - and swear they were as honest as they could have been.

richard@richardmoore.com

- Bay of Plenty Times

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