ROTTNEST ISLAND is losing its only post box.
From Monday September 8 islanders will have to catch a ferry into Fremantle every time they want to check their mail.
And they must make the trip at least once every 30 days or the mail gets returned to sender.
Jennifer Nolan has lived on Rotto since starting work at the general store in February and says the prospect of an hour’s trip just to check for mail is unthinkable.
“It is unacceptable for the residents, whether temporary or transient, to be unable to mail or receive any post,” says Ms Nolan, who’d just been given the go-ahead by her boss to start a petition when the Chook called.
“I think it will be a poor reflection on Western Australia and Australia if an overseas tourist is not able to mail a postcard to their family from one of our favourite holiday destinations,” she says.
“It is also unacceptable that Australia Post has tried to keep this a secret.”
Rottnest Island Authority staff have been clearing the post box daily since the local post office closed in 2008, dropping the mail off in Fremantle.
RIA workers have also collected incoming mail, with Rotto traders and residents drifting in to pick it up at their leisure.
It’s a free, common-sense service that works well and that’s clearly upset senior bureaucrats at Australia Post.
The box-tickers are demanding the RIA sign up (pay the fee) to become an authorised agent, otherwise it’s too risky to keep allowing it to collect mail in case something goes wrong and someone complains.
Australia Post bugle Jenni Bolton concedes there hasn’t been a single complaint about the RIA’s dolphin express in six years.
She was stumped when the Chook queried Australia Post’s claim the box must be removed because it’s “no longer economically viable”, given the RIA does everything gratis and it’ll cost money to take out.
Instead, she offered up endless repetitions of how only authorised staff and agents are allowed to touch mail and how no-one on the island is interested in signing up (paying the fee).
Questions about any potential for a memorandum-of-understanding or other agreements less onerous than becoming an agency met the same “computer says no” response.
RIA bugle Penni Fletcher-Hughes says the RIA will now set up a “mail receptacle” at the Rotto visitor’s centre for all residents and visitors (“out tray”) and it will lease a second post office box for its staff so they’ll still get their letters. But they’ll have to travel to Fremantle to get parcels.
No such luck for private enterprise traders and employees on the island.
“Australia Post will no longer provide a bulk mail delivery to the island and individual businesses and residents will have to make their own arrangements for receiving their mail.”
by STEVE GRANT