Postal proposal seen as attack on rural people

By Trevor Quinn,

Retired Masterton district councillor Roddy McKenzie has said the move to introduce a three-day-a-week postal delivery service is another attack on under-appreciated and forgotten rural communities in the Wairarapa and one he will vigorously oppose.

New Zealand Post recently announced a proposal to introduce a three-day-a-week postal service to cut costs after they said they were reconsidering their business model, which they said was rapidly heading into loss-making territory.

Mr McKenzie said he believed postal delivery workers were of major benefit to rural communities and they were sometimes the only daily visitors to isolated elderly people living alone.

"[Posties] see things happening [in rural communities], for example, stock on the road or they might come across a car accident," he said. "It's as much a public relations job as it is just bringing post down the road."

Several years ago Mr McKenzie, a Kopuaranga farmer, organised a petition to Parliament after proposed rural delivery fees were being considered by the Government and the proposals were subsequently scrapped.

"What they wanted was for us to pay more for delivery," he said. "My argument was if I go out and I put a 20-cent stamp on a letter for postage I shouldn't have to pay when it arrives."

Mr McKenzie said he believed rural people are low on the list of priorities when it comes to parliamentarians and urbanised leaders who don't understand the importance of mail delivery to rural areas. "The Government doesn't care. They can use our subsidies to tide them over but then when it comes to rural people they just say no," he said.

"People in isolated areas pay their taxes like everybody else, surely they deserve a service."

Masterton District Council's only rural councillor, Graham McClymont, said the cuts would affect him as he runs a business from home.

Mr McClymont said the proposal was the "sharp edge of doing away with it forever".

The Rural Delivery Contractors Association said it is concerned that if there was a reduction in the number of delivery days to fewer than five per week, it would make many rural delivery businesses nonviable.

Mr McKenzie said many elderly people, farmers and businesses relied on regular mail for medical supplies, farming supplies and spare parts. He said in many cases emails just weren't an option for everyone.

"I can understand they're saying people can use the internet and send emails and they say there's fewer letters, but that's only one side of it," he said.

"Stock farmers rely on medical supplies for their stock, for example pore-on and other things, it's not just a few letters in the mail. It's easy for some CEO to sit in Wellington and look out their window and say that's okay, they've got emails, they've got telephones."

The retired local politician said if any other sector in New Zealand was putting as much money into the country as farmers they'd expect to have far more say.

Mr McKenzie said he would be organising meetings in opposition to the proposal and also be speaking with local representatives.

"I'd like to know what John Hayes thinks about it, is he going to go out and bat for us?" he asked.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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