The Rudd Labor Government is bleeding an extra $150 million from taxpayers through a rise in the cost of postage, Senator Simon Birmingham said today.
A one-off “special dividend” of $150 million is being paid by Australia Post in 2008-09, which according to the Budget Papers “reflects the strong financial position of Australia Post”.
However, under questioning in Senate Budget Estimates hearings today, Australia Post has confirmed it expects to raise just less than $155 million per annum through an October price rise in the cost of postage.
“This is a shameless inflationary backdoor tax that adds to the cost of living for ordinary Australians just to help a desperate new Government’s bottom line,” Senator Birmingham said today. 
“The cost increase is also an added burden for businesses, particularly small businesses, with flow-on inflationary effects throughout the economy.
“Families, pensioners and anybody else wanting to post a letter will be slugged with an extra 5 cents for a standard letter from October, bringing the price of an ordinary stamp to 55 cents.
“This Government claims to be putting downward pressure on inflation and easing cost of living pressures, but this is just another example of it actually doing the exact opposite.
“It is an extraordinary coincidence that the Government is raking $150 million out of Australia Post at a time when Australia Post will be making that much extra through a price rise affecting ordinary Australians. 
“It simply defies belief that the Government also claims to be doing all it can for ordinary Australians to ease the cost of living just as it hits them up for more cash.
“The Government’s claims the special dividend reflects the strong financial position of Australia Post have been exposed as hollow, given Australia Post also revealed today it carries debt of more than $500 million and faces significant cost pressures as a result of rising fuel costs.
“The sad reality is that once stamps go up, that extra 5 cents per stamp is going towards the extra $150 million helping prop up the Rudd Labor Government’s budget bottom line.”