New Australia Post delivery times announced
A number of regulatory changes to Australia Post’s delivery standards have been announced. These changes will be in place until June 2021 and include:
- removing the Priority Mail letter product
- adjusting the existing service standards on other letters, meaning Australia Post will deliver letters in metropolitan areas every second day; and
- extending the required delivery time for regular intrastate letters to five days after the day of posting.
Under the RTI and IP Acts, decisions must be received by the applicant by the end of the processing period or any extended period. As such, these changes to Australia Post’s delivery standard will impact on decisions delivered by post.
Wherever possible, agencies can mitigate these impacts by delivering decisions by email. Where this is not possible, agencies will need to ensure they have enough time to both make their decision and deliver it to the applicant before the processing period/extended period runs out. If the applicant does not receive the decision in time, the decision will become deemed, regardless of when it was made.
Building in a buffer
Under section 35 of the RTI Act and section 55 of the IP Act, at any point before the end of the processing period an agency can ask an applicant for more time to work on an application. The agency does not require the applicant’s agreement to get this extra time. As long as the applicant doesn’t say no or seek an external review, the agency can keep working and make a decision.
OIC’s view is that the agency only needs to send the request for more time before the end of the processing period; the applicant does not have to receive it by then. Given this, during Australia Post’s altered delivery standards, agencies who are concerned that their posted decision may not reach the applicant in time could consider requesting extra time in the decision notice itself, eg five business days for intrastate letters. If delivery is delayed, this extra time will automatically activate and act as a buffer, preventing the considered decision from becoming a deemed decision because it didn’t reach the applicant in time.
The applicant’s review rights run from the date the decision was made, not the date the applicant receives it. Agencies should take Australia Post’s new delivery standards, and the potential for delays, when considering whether to accept an internal review application received outside the 20 business days allowed by the Acts.
We will be updating relevant guidelines and information sheets to reflect Australia Post’s changed delivery standards.
For more information, contact the Enquiries Service on 07 3234 7373 (select option 1) or firstname.lastname@example.org.