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Federal opposition backs Tasmanian premier's call for urgent review of 000 emergency call centralisation



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HON KIM BEAZLEY MEDIA

M E D I A S T A T E M E N T

Stephen Smith MP Member for Perth Shadow Minister for Communications

1/99 8 January 1999

FEDERAL OPPOSITION BACKS TASMANIAN PREMIER'S CALL FOR URGENT REVIEW OF 000 EMERGENCY CALL CENTRALISATION

Shadow Minister for Communications, Mr Stephen Smith has backed calls by Tasmanian Premier Jim Bacon for an urgent review of Telstra's plans to close all State Emergency 000 centres and centralise the 000 Emergency call service.

Mr Smith said in the light of disturbing events in Tasmania this week involving incorrect dispatch of emergency services following calls to the 000 Emergency number, any plans to close regional 000 centres across Australia should be shelved and an urgent wide- ranging review o f Telstra's 000 Emergency call service should commence.

"The response so far from Telstra to questioning about these incidences has been entirely inadequate.

"It is about time the Minister for Communications, Senator Alston, intervened to require a fall explanation from Telstra of these recent communication failures", Mr Smith said.

Mr Smith said recent incidences involving the incorrect dispatch o f calls originating from mobile phones demonstrated the need for immediate action.

"Increased usage of mobile phones brings a new dimension to emergency call service provision,

"Regional call centres clearly need to be adequately resourced, with a sufficient number of competent and specially trained personnel.

"When the emergency call system fails lives are put at risk. There is no room for here for a trial of efficiency or productivity measures,

"And there is no substitute for local knowledge and specialised training."

Mr Smith said Wednesday's unfortunate incident involving a heart attack victim in Deloraine in Tasmania also demonstrated that a review of emergency call dispatch procedures, including response procedures by emergency service agencies, was urgently needed.

"We urgently need a review of all emergency callout procedures", Mr Smith said.

"But in the meantime any plans to centralise this service must be shelved and regional centres adequately resourced." Media Contact: Rebecca Bryant 0418 430 818

R1 113 Parliament House ACT 2600 Phone: 02 6277 4108 Fax: 02 6277 8520