Thursday, 15 November 2018 12:02

Government looks to further boost telco consumer protections Featured

By
Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield

The Australian Government has made recommendations for further protections for telco consumers, including a strengthening of the role of the Telecommunications Ombudsman.

The government’s move on strengthening consumer protections follows a review of consumer safeguards, with the additional protections designed to improve the handling of customer complaints and increase the transparency of complaints data to drive the telco industry toward improved customer service.

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.

As the government says, 20 years ago, approximately 35% of Australian homes had a broadband connection, and by 2020, 100% of homes will be able to connect through the NBN.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said the Morrison Government was “putting consumers first”.

“The consumer safeguards we have in place today are designed around the old telephone network. The ongoing relevance and usefulness of these protections is diminishing as Australia’s telecommunications environment and consumer use evolves.”

Fifield said Thursday’s Part A Recommendations: Consumer Redress and Complaints Handling would strengthen the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman by improving its governance, operations and relationship with the telco regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

The consultation paper for Part B: Reliability of Telecommunications Services was also released on Thursday and submissions are due by 21 December.

Part B of the review 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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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year 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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