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Abbott government rules out privatisation of Australia Post

The government’s Commission of Audit report recommended Australia Post be sold, along with the Royal Australian Mint and several others publicly owned assets.

The government’s Commission of Audit report recommended Australia Post be sold, along with the Royal Australian Mint and several others publicly owned assets.

Federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says the Abbott government will not sell Australia Post, however it will proceed with a scoping study into the sale of the Royal Australian Mint.

There has been increasing speculation about the possible sale of the iconic postal delivery service after Treasurer Joe Hockey earlier this year left open the possibility of its privatisation.

Earlier this month Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims urged the government to sell assets to increase productivity, and former ACCC commissioner Stephen King came out strongly in favour of a sale of Australia Post.

The government will push ahead with a scoping study in the sale of the Royal Australian Mint.

The government will push ahead with a scoping study in the sale of the Royal Australian Mint. Photo: Andrew Meares

The government's Commission of Audit report - released earlier this month - also recommended it be sold, along with the Royal Australian Mint and several others publicly owned assets.

"We have decided not to proceed with the sale of Australia Post," Senator Cormann told Senate estimates on Wednesday.

"We have [also] decided not to proceed with the sale of ASC [formerly the Australian Submarine Corporation].''

However, Senator Cormann said the government was pushing ahead with scoping studies into the sale of the Royal Australian Mint and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission's business registry arm.

The Audit Commission laid down timetables for the sale of Snowy Hydro, the National Electricity Market, Australian Hearing, the Defence Housing Authority, and the Australia Submarine Corporation.

It also said the privatisation of the NBN, the Australian Rail Track Corporation and Comcar should be considered.

The news will come as a relief for those who have been calling for Australia Post to remain in government hands.

Labor and the unions have argued the company provides a vital service in rural and regional communities and warn if the company were privatised those services could be lost.

University of Queensland economist John Quiggin has opposed the sale of Australia Post, saying the results of the sales of Telstra, Qantas and Sydney Airport had been poor.

''In general, the price received for assets has been less than their value in continued public ownership."

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the government would proceed with the sale of the Royal Australian Mint. The Coalition will in fact proceed with a scoping study into the sale. 

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