Federal Member for Nicholls, Damian Drum, is one on 17 Government MPs who have come together to support proposed legislation that will see telecommunications companies held to account for continued poor service in both regional and metropolitan areas.
Mr Drum said he was happy to support the Private Member’s Bill from Federal Member for Berowra, Julian Leeser, after hearing story after story from Nicholls constituents who experience ongoing issues with their mobile service, or lack thereof.
“Stories about poor coverage and a lack of urgency in addressing issues by telco companies are far too frequent and, put simply, there just isn’t enough accountability,” Mr Drum said.
“I’ve always been a big believer that regional and rural residents should not be disadvantaged because they choose not to live in a city, but unfortunately mobile service is a clear example of where they are often treated as a second-class citizen.
“Not a week goes by where my office isn’t contacted by a Nicholls resident needing help in getting their telecommunications problems addressed and resolved.”
The exposure draft of the Telecommunications Reform (Telstra, NBN and other Providers) Bill 2021 is now open for comment.
Proposed changes include:
- A Universal Mobile Service Obligation: Australians, regardless of where they live, should be able to use a mobile phone to make a call or access the internet at either their home or workplace.
- A Customer Service Guarantee will mean that no caller to a telco will be left on hold for more than five minutes. ‘No service, No fee’ provisions mean that anyone who is without service at their home or business for more six hours between 8am and 8pm over a month gets that month of service for free.
- The Bill will require telcos to be transparent about their customer service. It will require them to publish details of the number of customer complaints in annual reports. Telcos will have to advise prospective customers of their standing in the Ombudsman’s customer service league table before concluding a contract.
- Telco executives will be held personally accountable for their poor customer service and failure to meet the needs of customers. Telco executive bonuses will be contingent on customer service improvements.
- The Bill will make telcos, and their executives, financially liable for preventable deaths caused through inaction. When a coroner finds that a death would have been prevented had the telco acted differently, significant financial penalties will be applied to the company and its executives.
Mr Leeser said he prepared an exposure draft of the Bill following years of inaction by telcos to fix fundamental issues in his NSW electorate.
“Telecommunications is an essential service people rely on, but for many people the telco service is worse today than it was 20 years ago,” Mr Leeser said.
“We’ve got kids studying who can’t connect with teachers because their internet doesn’t work, teachers are presenting online classes from the McDonalds carpark because they can’t get reception at home.
“We’ve got people in life threatening situations who can’t dial triple zero because they have no mobile reception. It’s not good enough.”
The Bill has the support of the following MPs:
Federal Member for Berowra (NSW) – Julian Leeser MP
Federal Member for Nicholls (VIC) – Damian Drum MP
Federal Member for Mallee (VIC) – Anne Webster MP
Federal Member for Cowper (NSW) – Pat Conaghan MP
Federal Member for Parkes (NSW) – Mark Coulton MP
Federal Member for Wide Bay (QLD) – Llew O’Brien MP
Federal Member for Barker (SA) – Tony Pasin MP
Federal Member for O’Connor (WA) – Rick Wilson MP
Federal Member for La Trobe (VIC) – Jason Wood MP
Federal Member for Ryan (QLD) – Julian Simmonds MP
Federal Member for Longman (QLD) – Terry Young MP
Federal Member for Forde (QLD) – Bert van Manen MP
Federal Member for Bass (TAS) – Bridget Archer MP
Federal Member for Groom (QLD) – Garth Hamilton MP
Federal Member for Bennelong (NSW) – John Alexander MP
Federal Member for Bowman (QLD) – Andrew Laming MP
Senator for Victoria – Senator Sarah Henderson