AUSTRALIANS may no longer be able to apply for a passport at the Post Office.
Australia Post’s contract with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is due to expire at the end of June 2017 and the Federal Government is looking at alternative providers.
According to The Advertiser, the government is expecting a surge in passport applications, from 1.8 million in 2014-15 to 3 million by 2019.
Enhanced online services have been flagged as a possible solution to deal with the huge increase. Those living in cities could be forced to travel up to 20km for passport interviews and those in the country may visit mobile shopfronts.
If Australia Post’s contract was not renewed, it would be another blow for the company, which is already struggling to adapt to the shift to digitalisation.
Passport interviews at the post office take between seven and nine minutes, including time needed to take photos.
Last year more than 90 per cent of standard applications were processed within 10 days.
The government is also considering the introduction of passport-free travel to New Zealand with both countries able to use virtual “cloud passports”.
“Australia Post is the largest provider of trusted services for business and government in Australia,” Australia Post spokeswoman Michelle Skehan told news.com.au.
“We have been providing passport services for the federal government for more than 30 years across our national Post Office network.
“Providing these types of valuable services for our customers is essential for the long-term sustainability of the local Post Office. Many of these Post Offices are run by small business owners, especially in regional and remote Australia.”