Thursday, October 24, 2013

Country matters #5: rural delivery

There has been a predictable chorus of outrage on Twitter about NZ Post’s plan to reduce mail delivery to three days a week in urban centres but keep it at five days a week in the country. Well, I have seen one tweet, but that would count as a “chorus” for the Herald and Stuff.

Urban types may think that rural delivery is just like the postie, except in a van rather than on a bicycle, but it isn’t. It’s a lot more than that. It’s a two-way service, collecting mail as well as delivering it: outside the towns, there is nowhere to post a letter. Every farm is a business that has to send and receive letters and parcels every day so rural delivery is also a courier service. In a town or city you can rent a PO box but that option isn’t available in the country. Nor, often, is the internet.

And what urban types may not realise is that rural delivery is user pays. When I send a letter or package to a client with a RD address, I pay extra. Quite a bit extra. The good people of Devonport and Wadestown can be reassured that they are not subsiding the hayseeds.

Here is what Rural Women NZ has to say on the issue:  
Rural Women New Zealand applauds today’s announcement that the special significance of the rural delivery service has been recognised in the New Zealand Post 2013 Deed of Understanding.
Under the updated deed, urban areas may see a reduction to a three day mail service from 2015, but the five day a week rural delivery service will remain unchanged, except on runs that already have a lower frequency.
“In our submission, which Minister Amy Adams has acknowledged, we highlighted that the rural delivery is so much more than just a mail service and anything that threatened its sustainability would have widespread unintended consequences,” says Rural Women national president, Liz Evans.
“It is a wraparound distribution service that is part of the fabric that holds rural communities together.“Our rural delivery contractors provide a lifeline, delivering supplies, repairs and spare parts, animal health remedies, medicines, and courier parcels.
“The five day service ensures people are able to run their farming enterprises and other rural businesses effectively, even from remote locations.”
Rural delivery contractors also pick up mail and parcels, meaning that it’s feasible to run a production-based business from a rural location. These businesses breathe life into rural communities, as we have seen through our Enterprising Rural Women Awards. Rural Women NZ’s plea to preserve the existing rural delivery service was also based on the limitations of other communications facilities, that urban people take for granted.
“In many rural areas there is limited or no cellphone coverage and we are still dealing with dial-up broadband connections in many cases.”

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