Friday, 07 October 2016 11:23

Union questions government motives on Triple Zero tender


The federal government’s decision to put the Triple Zero emergency service out to tender signals more cost cutting in telecommunications and health services, according to the Communications Union.

The union’s national president Shane Murphy has questioned the ongoing reliability of the service if a tender for a “lower cost” service is considered and has called on the government to explain what it wants for the service.

“Is this simply about finding cost savings at the expense of a skilled and qualified workforce providing an efficient essential service?

“Or if, as reported today, this is actually about having Telstra, the historical provider, prove it can modernise the platform, then why would any other credible provider waste its time tendering?

“This is too important a service for there to be a lack of clarity or unanswered questions with regard to the process and policy intentions.

“We simply can’t afford to risk undermining the reliability of the Triple Zero phone service which fields more than eight million emergency calls per year and up to 30,000 calls per day.”

According to Murphy, the Liberals have a firm ideological view on privatisation and cost-cutting – and community health and safety is not immune.

On Thursday, the government called for Expressions of Interest for an operator of the Triple Zero service — currently operated by Telstra — following a review of services which looked at ways to take advantage of new technologies for the provision of “improved” services in the future.

The government is now seeking an operator for the service who can implement an IP-based service that can "keep pace with the rapidly changing social and technological environment".

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield says Australians’ expectations regarding emergency assistance have changed since Triple Zero was introduced as a voice-only service in 1961, when fixed-line telephones were the primary means of communication.

He says the move to update the service is an "important step in ensuring Triple Zero remains a highly-trusted and reliable service for all Australians when they need to request emergency assistance".

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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