Australia Post has made a return to profit despite at dramatic decline in its letters business, while it plans a bold move to run potential online Australian elections.
On Friday, Australia Post chief executive Ahmed Fahour announced a $36 million profit after last financial year’s $222 million loss.
Like last year’s result, this year’s financial result (despite being a profit), was still marred by a disastrous letter business decline.
Ongoing digital disruption saw addressed letter volumes fall by 9.7 per cent, contributing to a $138 million loss in the postal business — the largest decline in Australia Post’s 207 year history.
Mr Fahour painted a pessimistic outlook for traditional letter deliveries, which will remain a loss-making part of the Australia Post business.
“We do have a business that is in structural decline. There’s no question about it,” Mr Fahour told the ABC.
“We’ve stemmed the losses in our letters business but it’s still losing money. We lost $138 million in delivering the mail this financial year.
“Unfortunately Australians are saying we want alternatives, we want to communicate in a different way.
“And that large volume decline means 43 percent less letters per letterbox compared to our peak eight years ago.”
He said Australia Post remained committed to letters, and that a strong performance in parcels drove the profit.
Australia Post push for digital voting
Australia Post recently made a submission to a Victorian parliament inquiry into electronic voting.
The postal company wants to help run an electronic election, with “blockchain” technology at the centre of its plan.
An Australia Post spokesperson told The New Daily that Australia Post could not comment further on its submission. The spokesperson said Australia Post would appear at the inquiry in September.
Blockchain is an electronic ledger that keeps track of bitcoin transactions. Bitcoin is a global currency that allows people to exchange money securely, without banks.
Using blockchain for voting could mean members of the public could vote securely and only once, because votes would be kept track of on the blockchain ledger.
“In many ways voting is an ideal use case for blockchain technology application beyond crypto currency,” the submission read.
RMIT University blockchain expert Katherine Noall welcomed the idea of blockchain being used in political voting.
“Blockchain the ability to make fraud traceable and one of the beauties of a blockchain is that you can make forward corrections but you can’t change records or change votes,” Ms Noall told The New Daily.
She said that once a vote was cast, it would be instantly counted: “We wouldn’t have the issue of waiting, like we did at the last election”.
However cyber security expert Steve Wilson told The Register that using blockchain for voting would be contravening the very reason block chain was created.
“Blockchain works without third parties, administrators or any kind of key management [like Australia Post or the Australian Electoral Commission],” he said.
“Blockchain is not necessary [for online voting], and more importantly, neither is it sufficient”, he wrote to us.
– with ABC