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?
“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".