Friday, 16 November 2018 08:40

Labor says 'mish-mash of recommendations' will not help telco consumers Featured

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Labor says 'mish-mash of recommendations' will not help telco consumers Pixabay

The Australian Labor Party says Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has finally dumped his original plan to abolish the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman after the government put forward a list of recommendations that it said would strengthen the role of the TIO.

"It’s no secret the minister’s original option was part of a devious plan to install his Liberal mates at the head of a much diminished complaints body that would have left consumers to fend for themselves," Labor Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland claimed in a statement.

"That ridiculous plan lasted all of five months – about the same period of time it seemingly takes the minister to pick up papers in his in-tray."

The government on Thursday announced it had made a further 32 recommendations as outlined in Part A of the Consumer Safeguards Review.

The three-part review, announced in April 2018, examines how to better protect telco customers in a landscape that the government says has seen massive change over the last two decades.

Rowland said Fifield had now produced a "mish-mash of recommendations", many of which, she claimed, "fail to explain how the proposed changes will improve the lived experience of consumers".

"What is clear is that despite the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government now being in its sixth year, Mitch Fifield continues to be a weathervane in search of a policy principle," Rowland said.

"Labor’s position on consumer protection has been consistent and simple: we believe industry incentives and accountability must be aligned firmly with consumer outcomes. Our priority is to address the incentives and root causes which give rise to complaints – this means clear lines of accountability and less complexity.

"This is why Labor has announced it will establish an NBN Service Guarantee, with clear incentives and penalties to improve outcomes for consumers and small businesses. Only Labor will continue to put consumers first because that is what we stand for."

The government consultation paper for Part B of the review, Reliability of Telecommunications Services, was also released on Thursday and submissions are due by 21 December. Part B is based on the fundamental principle that “all Australians should be able to connect to, and stay connected to, a reliable fixed service”.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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