Cosy deal is bad news for newsagents

By PETER CATON

TWEED newsagents have entered the Federal election campaign with a protest against an allegedly "cosy deal" between Telstra and Australia Post which they say robs consumers of a choice of where to pay their bills. The newsagents yesterday called on National Party member for Richmond, Larry Anthony to help save local consumers from deal they say "limits consumer choice about where and when they pay their phone bills". Australia Post recently signed the exclusive deal with Telstra to allow the phone company's customers to pay their bills at post offices. Proprietor of Newton's Newsagency in Wharf Street, Tweed Heads, Robert Newton said the deal stopped plans by newsagents, many of whom open 25 hours a week longer than the post office, to offer the service. The newsagents have also pointed out that the deal was announced just after reports Australia Post awarded a major internet contract to Telstra. Mr Newton said what really grated was that "post offices have set themselves up to look like a newsagency" but were stopping newsagents competing on their turf. "If it's okay for them to encroach on our sales, then if someone has a Tel- stra bill and they want to pay it on a Sunday or early in the morning, they should be able to pay it at a newsagent," he said. Mr Anthony said he sympathised with newa- gents but the Government had put in place a regulatory regime under the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and would monitor newsagent's concerns.



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