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Grassroots pushback against ‘unfair’ paper fees

Thursday, 02 March 2017
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(l-r) Colin Ormsby, Fair Go for Pensioners; Michael Martinez, CEO Diversitat; Kellie Northwood, Keep Me Posted; Christine Couzens MP; and Andrew Hewat, Geelong Trades Hall Council.

Angry customers have launched a petition calling for an end to charges imposed by banks, telcos and other service providers on those who choose to receive paper bills.

At a town hall meeting in Geelong, Victoria organised by lobby group Keep Me Posted, local state Labor MP Christine Couzens agreed to set up a community group with concerned local residents to work on the issue and start a petition aimed at removing the charges.

“People are very angry and very upset by the unfairness of the fees,” says Kellie Northwood, executive director of Keep Me Posted. “They’re angry at the corporate greed and how they’re being charged for something that is a basic part of doing business.”

Couzens, who hosted yesterday’s forum at the Geelong West Town Hall, says the charges are affecting those most vulnerable in the community.

“Geelong residents have contacted me regarding the cost of fees for receiving these bills for utilities, phone and other services via mail, and its effect on their already low income. Older Geelong residents, the unemployed and those on a low income are being charged with extra fees that can easily stretch to hundreds of dollars a year.”

Senior groups are particularly impacted with 21% of Australians aged 65 and over having never accessed the internet.

In a Facebook post after the meeting, Couzens says: “Today I held a public forum in Geelong with over 140 constituents to discuss fees attached to paper billing. This is a serious concern for many in our community. I am very pleased that from this meeting a group has been established to continue the campaign to stop this greedy grab for more profits by services providers.”

The meeting in Geelong follows similar community meetings in Devonport, Yeronga and Bendigo. Four other meetings are planned – in Canberra, Newcastle, Ballarat and Perth – as the grassroots campaign against the charges gathers momentum.

The petition will begin with a state focus but Keep Me Posted hopes to take it nationwide.

“It is critical to raise awareness about the campaign,” says Northwood. “We want to hear the impacts on the community and understand how we can assist people with these concerns.”

Kellie Northwood addresses the meeting at Geelong West Town Hall

Next forums:

24th March 10.30 am in Belconnen ACT with Andrew Leigh, Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profit.

10th April 11.30am in Newcastle MSW with Sharon Claydon MP, Member for Newcastle.

Perth, Ballarat, TBA.



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