Tuesday, 10 July 2018 20:53

Telecoms complaints reporting changes sensible, pragmatic, says Labor Featured

By
Michelle Rowland, Labor Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland, Labor Shadow Communications Minister

The Labor Party has welcomed the scope of expansion of the Complaints in Context reporting process for the telecommunications industry, describing the proposed changes as a sensible and pragmatic measure.

Labor’s Shadow Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland said to expand the participation of telecommunications providers in the reporting scheme can, in turn, improve public access to comparable baseline measures on the service performance.

Rowland’s comments follow this week’s release by the Communications Alliance of the revised draft of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code for a 30-day period of public and stakeholder feedback, prior to updating of the registered and enforceable industry code of conduct.

Under the proposed changes to the draft code, the quarterly Complaints in Context report managed by Communications Alliance will be expanded to encompass many more telcos and to provide transparent and comparable information to consumers on the complaint handling and customer service performance of suppliers.

The TCP Code provides consumer safeguards in the areas of sales, service and contracts, billing, credit and debt management, and for changing suppliers – and key changes include a new rule on third-party charges that appear on customers’ telco bills, for services such as mobile premium services and direct carrier billing.

In her statement, issued on Tuesday, Rowland said that, “in contrast to these pragmatic steps, the Turnbull Government is all over the shop. Its consumer agenda is two years behind schedule, lacks cohesion, and is characterised by proposals that fail to address the key incentive structures that too often work against consumer interests”.

According to Rowland, Labor’s NBN Service Guarantee will establish the right incentives to encourage the telecommunications supply chain to deliver more responsive service and better safeguard individual consumers and small businesses against excessive NBN downtime.

Rowland says that strengthening wholesale service standards on the NBN also has the strong support of stakeholders including:

  • The NBN Joint Parliamentary Standing Committee;
  • Small business groups;
  • Consumer groups such as ACCAN;
  • Retail service providers; and
  • Internet Australia.

“It’s time this out of touch minister focused on consumer outcomes, rather than how to sweep complaints under the rug,” Rowland said.

“Labor remains the only party committed to placing consumers at the core of its policy agenda, and willing to back that up with effective action.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. 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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