Postal service in Australia
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The postal service of Australia refers to the history of the provision of postal services in Australia.
The first postal service in Australia was that of New South Wales in 1809. In that year Isaac Nichols was appointed postmaster. His main job was to take charge of letters and parcels arriving by ship, to avoid the chaos of people rushing onto the ships as soon as they arrived at Sydney's wharves. Postal services were set up in each Australian colony as they were established.
A regular Sydney-Melbourne overland service began in 1838, as did embossed covers (the world's first) prepaid postage, and by 1849 uniform postal rates were established by agreement between the colonies. Monthly steamship sea mail to the United Kingdom was established in 1856. The separate colonies joined the Universal Postal Union in 1891.
In 1901, the colonial mail systems were merged into the Postmaster General's Department (PMG). This government department was responsible for telegraph and domestic telephone operations as well as postal mail. According to Australia Post, the world's first large-scale mechanical mail sorting system was introduced in Australia, and operational in the Sydney GPO.
Postcodes were introduced in Australia in 1967. They replaced earlier postal sorting systems, such as Melbourne's alphanumeric codes (e.g., N3, E5) and a similar system once used in rural and regional New South Wales.
On 1 July 1975, separate government commissions were established to undertake the operational responsibilities of the former PMG. One of these was the Australian Postal Commission, trading as Australia Post. Its name was changed to the Australian Postal Corporation on 1 January 1989 when it was corporatised, although it continued to trade as Australia Post.
Australia Post remains a government business enterprise. It is self-funding and uses its assets and resources to earn profits, which can be reinvested in the business or returned as dividends to its shareholder, the Commonwealth. Under its community service obligations, Australia Post is committed to providing an accessible, affordable and reliable letter service for all Australians wherever they reside. The corporation reaches more than 10 million Australian addresses; operates 4,462 postal outlets; and serves more than a million customers in postal outlets every business day.
Under the Australian Postal Corporation Act 1989, Australia Post has a monopoly over the carriage and delivery of letters up to 250 grams. Other businesses can only carry them if they charge four times the basic postage rate. All of the other goods and services provided by Australia Post are sold in fully competitive markets and, in 2005–06, nearly 90 per cent of the corporation’s profit (from ordinary activities before net interest and tax) came from selling products and services in competitive markets.