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Notice given 17 June 2003

1532  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) What internal resources has Telstra allocated to the monitoring of the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee inquiry into the Australian telecommunications network.

(2) At how many hearings of the inquiry has Telstra had a staff member present for monitoring purposes.

(3) What is the name and position of the Telstra employee who has been attending inquiry hearings on a regular basis.

(4) Of what Telstra Business Unit is he a part.

(5) Who does he report to in Telstra.

(6) What is his annual salary.

(7) What has been the cost of travel and travel allowance for the purpose of monitoring this inquiry.

(8) What is his position description and/or brief in regard to this inquiry.

(9) What hearings of the Australian telecommunications network has this person attended.

(10) (a) Does he present a report to Telstra after each hearing; and (b) who is given a copy of that report.

1533  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) How many RAM 8s are used in the Bendigo, Gippsland and Southern Gippsland regions.

(2) Does Telstra agree with the assertion that the quality of service is reduced with RAM 8s, such as slower Internet connections and static; if so, what is Telstra doing to improve the service.

(3) How many complaints, concerning network faults, has Telstra received in the past year from customers in the Bendigo, Gippsland and Southern Gippsland regions.

(4) (a) What is slavey cable; and (b) what it is used for.

(5) Is Telstra using slavey cable to aid the provision of services to customers.

(6) Can the Minister confirm whether Telstra is not allowing ‘expense works’ unless they are emergency patch ups only.

(7) Given that at the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Legislation Committee additional estimates hearings in November 2002 Telstra stated that under the Regional Network Taskforce program cable replacement was conducted in the Southern Gippsland area (QoN 47), can Telstra provide a percentage figure for old and new cable in the area.

1534  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—With reference to the Cable Air Pressure Program:

(1) How many staff are being assigned to work on the this program in each of the priority areas of Illawarra, Newcastle, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Tasmania and Canberra.

(2) Can figures be provided on how many of those assigned under the program, for each of the above priority areas, are: (a) Network Design and Construction staff; (b) National Network Solutions staff, (c) contractors; and (d) Telstra field staff.

(3) How many cables were in alarm in each of these priority areas at the start of this program.

(4) How many cables in each of the categories of platinum, gold and silver, were identified as being in alarm in New South Wales.

(5) How many cables are now in alarm in each of these priority areas.

(6) How many of the cables in alarm are due to inaccessible leaks.

(7) What is the process for repairing inaccessible leaks.

(8) How many inaccessible leaks in New South Wales are being repaired by cable length replacement under this program.

(9) Given that cables in Tasmania are not under APCAMS but under the AMS system, are AMS reports available; if so, can a copy of the most recent AMS report be provided; if not, how are the priority areas being determined in Tasmania.

(10) What broadly is the state of the cables in Tasmania as far as this issue is concerned.

(11) Is the APCAMs alarm system being installed in any new areas; if so, where.

(12) How much is being spent on APCAMS installation.

1535  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—With reference to the Customer Network Improvement (CNI) database:

(1) How many CNIs are there in the database at present, given that on 6 December the total figure quoted by Telstra was 112 159, an increase from the number quoted by Mr Estens in his report, which was 104  500 for February 2002.

(2) How many CNIs are there in each of the five priority classifications at present.

(3) What is the oldest CNI in each of the five priority classifications at present.

(4) What is the volume of CNIs that have been cleared from the database since 6 December 2002, in each of the priority classifications.

(5) Is it true that Telstra has changed the reporting process for CNIs, given the evidence presented by the Communications, Electrical, Electronic, Energy, Information, Postal, Plumbing and Allied Services Union at the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee hearing into the Australian telecommunications network in Sydney on 19 May 2003 that there is a new process which involves a telephone call to the CNI phone number, and that the paperwork that used to be utilised is no longer required under this new process.

(6) (a) When did this system change; and (b) what is the rationale behind it.

(7) How are CNI tasks now allocated to customer field staff.

(8) Who can access the CNI database.

(9) Can team leaders in specific regional areas access the CNI database.

1536  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) At what date did Pracom commence supplying contractors to Telstra in Perth.

(2) (a) How many Pracom contractors, by dates of contracts, have been contracted by Telstra for the 2002-03 financial year.

(3) How many Citadel Securix contractors, by dates of contracts, have been contracted by Telstra for the 2002-03 financial year.

(4) How does the Corporate Sourcing Group operate; and (b) is there a separate Corporate Sourcing Group in each Telstra region.

(5) Who does the General Manager of Metro Services Infrastructure Services report to in the Telstra organisation.

(6) Can details be provided of which expenses are covered by Telstra and which expenses are covered by contractors when contractors are flown in to a capital city to do work for Telstra; for example does Telstra pay for the cost of travel, travel allowance and other expenses.

(7) If any of these expenses are covered by Telstra, which part of Telstra’s budget are these costs covered by.

(8) Has Telstra made any changes in the 2002-03 financial year to the way these expenses are recorded.

(9) What investigations has Telstra done into the connections between Ms T Jakszewicz, or members of her immediate family, and the contracting company Pracom.

(10) (a) Is Ms Jakszewicz still an employee of Telstra; and (b) can the dates of her employment with Telstra be provided.

(11) With regard to the use of contractors generally: For each Telstra region, on how many occasions has the inspection of work done by contractors resulted in a re-report of that work.

1537  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) (a) How much money did Telstra spend on advertising its specialised services for the aged and disabled in the last year; (b) what advertising medium did Telstra use to promote these services; and (c) where did Telstra predominantly advertise these services.

(2) (a) Where are the aged and disability managers located in Australia; and (b) how many staff work with the managers.

(3) (b) Will Telstra be training other staff in dealing with aged and disability problems; if so, where will these staff be located; and (b) how much training will be provided per staff member, for example, days or weeks.

1538  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) With reference to Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Legislation Committee Hansard, 27 May 2003 page 142, can the Minister confirm the statement by Mr Rix that it is only in ‘contingency’ workload that Telstra has ‘an opportunity to look for additional resources such as the use of overtime’.

(2) (a) Does Telstra use additional resources such as overtime or external contractors under any other workload condition, such as low workload, normal workload, high workload or contingency; and (b) can details be provided of each category of additional resources for each workload for each area this financial year, including Network Design and Construction, National Network Solutions resources.

(3) (a) If no preventative maintenance work is done under contingency, is preventative maintenance work done under any other workload condition, such as low workload, normal workload or high workload; and (b) can details be provided of the percentage of resources for preventative maintenance work under each other workload condition.

(4) How many days of normal workload were there this financial year for each Telstra region including: (a) Sydney Metro; (b) NSW Regional; (c) Melbourne Metro; (d) Vic Regional; (e) Brisbane Metro; (f) Qld Regional; (g) Perth Metro; (h) WA Regional; (i) Adelaide Metro; (j) SA Regional; (k) NT; and (l) Tas.

(5) How many days of high workload were there this financial year for each Telstra region including: (a) Sydney Metro; (b) NSW Regional; (c) Melbourne Metro; (d) Vic Regional; (e) Brisbane Metro; (f) Qld Regional; (g) Perth Metro; (h) WA Regional; (i) Adelaide Metro, (j) SA Regional; (k) NT; and (l) Tas.

(6) How many days of low workload were there this financial year for each Telstra region including: (a) Sydney Metro; (b) NSW Regional; (c) Melbourne Metro; (d) Vic Regional; (e) Brisbane Metro; (f) Qld Regional; (g) Perth Metro; (h) WA Regional; (i) Adelaide Metro; (j)  SA Regional; (k) NT; and (l) Tas.

(7) How many days of  contingency were this this financial year for each Telstra region including: (a) Sydney Metro; (b) NSW Regional; (c) Melbourne Metro; (d) Vic Regional; (e) Brisbane Metro; (f) Qld Regional; (g) Perth Metro; (h) WA Regional; (i) Adelaide Metro, (j) SA Regional; (k) NT; and (l) Tas.

(8) What is the fault level at which each of these regions would be considered in contingency if in Melbourne Metro contingency is above 1 900 faults: (a) Sydney Metro; (b) NSW Regional; (c) Brisbane Metro; (d) Qld Regional; (e) Perth Metro; (f) WA Regional; (g) Adelaide Metro; (h) SA Regional; (i) NT; and (j) Tas.

(9) With reference to evidence by Mr Rix, Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Legislation Committee Hansard, 27 May 2003, page 144, if the normal range of faults for Melbourne is between 850 and 1 300 faults, what is the normal range of faults for each other area including: (a) Sydney Metro; (b) NSW Regional; (c) Brisbane Metro; (d) Qld Regional; (e) Perth Metro; (f) WA Regional; (g) Adelaide Metro; (h) SA Regional; (i) NT; and (j) Tas.

1539  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) (a) Has ‘FuturEdge’ been implemented across Telstra yet; and (b) can an update be provided on how this has been proceeding.

(2) (a) Was this system trialled in any location before it was implemented across the company; if so, where was it trialled, and for how long; and (b) is it still being trialled anywhere.

(3) (a) Is it correct that there was a trial of ‘FuturEdge’ in Brisbane earlier this year; and (b) has the program been fully implemented in Brisbane now.

(4) With reference to information provided to the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Legislation Committee: (a) is it true that the Brisbane Work Management Centre experienced so many problems with ‘FuturEdge’ that it had to assign hundreds of jobs manually; and (b) what sorts of problems were these and what did Telstra do to fix these.

(5) How has Telstra changed the way fieldwork calendars are managed to improve fault rectification times as reported by Telstra in the Estens Report (page 85).

1540  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) Can a list be provided of the names of the cities and towns that have had Telstra employees from other home base locations working in them, the number of employees in each, and the city or town of origin and number from that place of those workers for each month of the 2002-03 financial year.

(2) How much does Telstra pay in travel allowance for its employees for each night away from their home base.

(3) How many nights of travel allowance has Telstra paid its employees in the customer field workforce in the past financial year.

(4) What is the total amount of travel allowance paid in the past financial year by Telstra to its customer field employees.

(5) What is the total cost of: (a) airfares; and (b) other travel expenses, ie, car travel, to transport Telstra customer field employees from their home base to another location for this financial year.

(6) Have the internal accounting or costing codes that Telstra uses to classify these expenses changed at all in the past few years; if so, how.

(7) What section of the Telstra budget are these costs reported in.

1541  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) What measures does Telstra take to ‘lightning proof’ its cable network.

(2) Does Telstra know of any new technology that is available to minimise damage to cables from lightning strikes.

(3) What damage do lightning strikes do to cables and how does it affect services.

(4) With reference to the mass service disruption (MSD) notice declared in Tasmania in March 2003, which referred to a lightning storm on 19 March and declared an exemption from customer service guarantee (CSG) performance standards from Friday, 21 March, to Saturday, 29 March: What was the exact damage caused by this lightning storm (given the evidence to the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee hearing in Launceston on 24 April 2003, in relation to the Australian telecommunications network inquiry, that this storm caused minimal damage in Tasmania).

(5) When and how did Telstra notify customers of this MSD in Tasmania.

(6) Were the CSG provisions adhered to in this case.

(7) Has Telstra paid any compensation to Tasmanian customers in respect of this case.

1542  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—With reference to the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee Hansard , 27 May 2003, pp 175-177:

(1) How many hours of overtime were worked by Telstra customer field staff in each year of the past 5 financial years.

(2) What is the average amount of overtime per customer field staff employee in each year of the past 5 financial years.

(3) Have any Telstra customer field staff worked for any continuous periods in excess of 30 days; if so, in which location did these employees work and what was the number of days of continuous work.

(4) Have any Telstra staff or Telstra contractors ever worked more than 20 hours straight within a 24 hour period; if so, in which location did these employees work and what has been the number of hours of overtime worked. 

(5) Have Telstra team leaders been asked to rank their staff by performance or productivity.

(6) (a) How have Telstra team leaders decided which staff members are to be offered redundancies; and (b) was this on the basis of productivity or performance.

(7) Can information be provided on the measures that Telstra has used to measure field staff against the quality of work, amount of work done each day, their utilisation and how often they are available, and what these criteria have been benchmarked at.

(8) How is the criterion of ‘how often they are available’ for customer field staff measured and benchmarked.

(9) What is the benchmark for the number of installations for a Telstra customer field employee.

(10) What is the benchmark for the number of fault repairs for a Telstra customer field employee.

1543  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) What is the process for clearing cash out of pay phones; and (b) how does Telstra know when a phone is ready to be cleared.

(2) Is it the case that when a coin box in a public phone is full that this means the telephone cannot be operated by someone attempting to use it with coins.

(3) When a ‘coin box full’ message is received at a Telstra call centre from a pay phone, how quickly does Telstra send out someone to clear this box.

(4) Who clears phone boxes.

(5) Is there any difference in the timeframe or process for doing this in metropolitan areas or regional areas; if so, can details be provided.

(6) What does Telstra say about reports that Telstra does not act on this information until the third ‘coin box full’ message is received.

1544  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) Can an update be provided on how the new Priority Service Program is working.

(2) What is the budget for administering this program for the 2003-04 financial year.

(3) (a) How many staff will be allocated to work on this program in the 2003-04 financial year; and (b) if there is a variation to 2002-03 figures, what positions are involved and what is the reason for the variation.

(4) How many customers are currently registered on this program.

(5) What is the rate of assistance being provided by the Priority Assistance Program to customers: ie, what percentage, and number of the registered priority assistance customers have received assistance from the Telstra priority program.

(6) Can a geographical breakdown be provided of where this assistance was given, and how many times for each customer and in each area this assistance was provided, since the program began.

(7) Has the program been well received by registered customers.

(8) Have there been any customers who wished to register that Telstra has refused registration to; if so, can details be provided of the reasons for rejection and the number rejected.

(9) What steps is Telstra taking to promote this program to customers.

1545  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) How much notice did Telstra give its ‘communic8’ customers in Southern Tasmania that the promotion providing free 15 minute calls to other Telstra mobiles would not be renewed after 15 February.

(2) With reference to the statement by a Telstra spokesperson on 18 February 2003 in the Mercury that ‘there was a need to review the promotion’, has Telstra conducted the review; if so, what was the outcome.

1546  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) Can an update be provided on the $187 million Regional Network Taskforce that was announced in July 2002.

(2) Has there been any change to these funding amounts; if so, can details be provided.

(3) (a) How much of the above budget was spent in 2002-03 and how much will be carried forward to future years; and (b) can details be provided.

(4) (a) Under what part of Telstra’s capital expenditure budget, or general budget, is this program funded; (b) is it included in the $420 million capital spending; and (c) can funding details be provided.

(5) (a) Does the program for ‘copper network rehabilitation’ include any remedial work on the ‘seal the CAN’ corrosive gel affected cables; if so, how much; (b) what work is covered in this category; and (c) can details be provided.

(6) (a) Does the $88 million on ‘copper network rehabilitation’ include any cable air pressure remedial work, such as the $40 million program to bring cable air pressure up to 40kpa in certain priority areas; and (b) can details be provided.

(7) For each category of spending listed, please indicate in which geographical locations each category of this program has done work.

1547  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—With reference to the use of encapsulant sealant gel:

(1) Does Telstra still stand by the statement that in 97 percent of cases where the gel is in place that it continues to work well.

(2) How much of the $110 million allocated to this program has been spent in the 2002-03 financial year.

(3) Has this funding level changed at all; if so, can details be provided.

(4) What is the sub-category of the domestic capital expenditure budget that this program is funded under.

(5) (a) Is it the case that if it is costing $110 million to fix 100 000 cable joints then each cable joint costs $100 000 to fix; (b) how was this figure calculated; and (c) can a breakdown of projected costings be provided.

(6) How many of these 100 000 joints identified have so far been fixed.

(7) (a) What are the geographical locations that are priorities for the repair of the 100 000 joints which have been targeted for remedial action; and (b) can a list of priority location areas be provided.

(8) (a) Is Perth one of the priority areas under the Telstra program; and (b) how many cable joints have been repaired in Perth under this program.

(9) (a) Are there still 100 people across Telstra exclusively focusing on identifying, prioritising and repairing cable joints where the gel has degraded the network; and (b) have any of these 100 people been moved from cable rehabilitation to other fault repair work this year for any period of time; if so, how many and where, and for what periods of time.

1548  Senator Harris: To ask the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer—With reference to the following list of firms that have given written advice about their mass marketed tax-effective investments schemes:

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu: Budplan, Central Highlands wine Grape, Connect the World, Educational Devices, Equity Match, Harcourt Ridge, No Regrets, Satcom, Tentas;

Ernst & Young: Northern Rivers Tea Tree, Pacific Tea Tree;

KPMG: Freedom Express, Interest Recount, Tentas; and

Pricewaterhouse Coopers: Austvin, Equity Match, Liar Liar (Film), Oil Fields Project, Simple Simon/Mercury Rising (Film), Tradematch Licence:

(1) Have any representatives of the above firms served on advisory panels to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or the Board of Taxation.

(2) Can taxpayers undertaking self-assessment of tax be reasonably sure that they can rely on the opinion of the above firms, particularly if their representation have served on advisory panels to the ATO or the Board of Taxation.

1549  Senator Harris: To ask the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer—With reference to mass-marketed tax effective investment schemes:

(1) (a) Have the Part IVA determinations which constitute the formal notice of tax avoidance been withdrawn from members of the federal ministry and state ministries; and (b) will the remaining 40 000 Australians that invested in cooperative agriculture and film projects receive the same benefit.

(2) Can the Minister confirm that the Commissioner of Taxation advised the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer (Senator Ian Campbell) that investors who chose not to settle would need to comprehensively succeed in any litigation of the case to be better off than the investors that settled.

(3) Is it true that the Commissioner of Taxation has indicated to the Parliamentary Secretary that the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) intend to challenge any future mass marketed tax-effective investment cases taken before the courts, even though the Assistant Commissioner, Mr Peter Smith, wrote in 2001 that the ATO would test case two projects and that the outcomes from those selected cases would provide greater certainty for other participants in similar structured cases.

(4) With reference to the Vincent decision, in which the determination that deductions were not allowed under the general deductibility provisions was not made, and the amendment assessment was not issued, until more than 4 years after the original assessment allowing the deductions: Can the Minister indicate to how many unfinalised settlement offers in relation to projects and reassessments will the same outcome apply.

(5) (a) How many cases are there in which the ATO failed to issue a reassessment by the final date to accept settlement (21 June 2002) and in which deductions were therefore disallowed under the general deductibility provisions; (b) would any of the reassessments issued at that date have fallen out of the 4 year period; (c) did the ATO indicate that if taxpayers did not settle it would have to contest the matter in court after objection; and (d) did the ATO maintain this view even after the Vincent appeal decision.