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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 7914


Senator MOORE (3:26 PM) —I seem to be continuing the common theme of Telstra today. In response to one of our questions today, the minister said, `As long as they get the service they want, they will be satisfied.' We strongly support that response. We accept that, as long as Australian consumers get the service they want, they will be satisfied. But there is one problem. The Australian Communications Authority report which was released yesterday—the minister very happily quoted the bits that he liked yesterday—said that complaints against Telstra had risen by around six per cent. It stated:

The ACA telecommunications consumer satisfaction survey for 2002 generally indicated decreases in customer satisfaction with telecommunications providers and services since the previous survey.

So the people out there using the services are not satisfied. They would like to be able to get the service that the minister talked about today when he used his video analogy. They would like to be able to have the same confidence in and acceptance of their telecommunications.

We have heard the complaints about Telstra and the magical CNI data. It is really difficult because, once again, it is a matter of language. We hear that these are not really faults; they are issues or tasks. We know that we have agreed numbers, but over 112 `issues or tasks' have been logged by Telstra as requiring some effort. What we have not been able to extract from Telstra or the minister is exactly what effort is required and when, but we know that the `issues or tasks' need some help. For some of us who have used Telstra services—I am a strong supporter of Telstra—it is not an easy thing to tell Telstra about our `issues or tasks'. To get onto the Telstra network, to sit and wait in the queue to advise of the issue or task is not simple. If somebody is upset and stumbles upon an issue or task that they take the trouble to tell Telstra about, it is not good news. What they are saying is that there is an issue or task which is upsetting their telecommunications service. That may or may not be a fault, but it does affect their service. We believe that these should be noted and understood.

The same ACA report that we have, as well as the Telstra submission to the committee last week, bedazzles us with graphs and information about how things are improving. We welcome information telling us what is really happening, but we would like clear, unarguable data about exactly what is happening in Telstra. Today the minister said, `We need a lot more detail before coming to any judgment.' We accept that, Minister: we need a lot more detail before we come to any judgment. He also said that we on this side, particularly Senator Lundy, were showing a visceral hatred of Telstra. This is just not true. What we have is a visceral need to support Telstra. We need to find out exactly what is going on in the network so that we can work together to provide the services that senators in this place are seeking.

We actually want to know and we want to be clear about exactly what is happening in the network. We do not want be arguing about issues or tasks. We want to find out how to make the network better. From my own state of Queensland, the Minister for Innovation and Information Economy, Paul Lucas, will be in contact with Minister Alston about issues or tasks which are needed in the Mount Isa region to improve services and, in particular, services to the Mount Isa School of the Air, which is going to be using more of Telstra's services to improve education in that region.

Last week, we heard at length about why there was going to be greater support for education from the various telecommunications services. That is all well and good but, when someone at the Rifle Creek School of the Air has to wait seven times as long as someone in other areas to actually receive service in that region, that is a fault. It is not an issue and it is not a task; it is a fault. We want to make sure that, when those issues or tasks are brought to the attention of Telstra and to the minister, they are fixed, they are acknowledged and they are respected.

Question agreed to.