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Wednesday, 7 March 2001
Page: 25348


Ms HALL (9:46 AM) —This government is out of touch with the Australian people, and so is Telstra. Telstra and the government tend to believe that the main issue facing Australia in relation to telecommunications is pushing through the privatisation of Telstra rather than looking at the service that is provided to the Australian people. I am sure all members have had the experience of approaching Telstra with their constituents' problems and finding a lack of receptiveness and willingness within that organisation to solve the problems, deal with the issues and service their customers.


Mr Lindsay —That is a reason to sell it.


Ms HALL —It is very interesting to hear the member opposite advocating the privatisation of Telstra. I think we need to put it on the record that that is his and the government's position. It is not the position of the people of Australia who are very keen to ensure that they get good service. There is a total lack of accountability within the Telstra organisation. They are not accountable to anyone. The argument is that it is a partially privatised company and it is about ensuring profits and not ensuring service to the people of Australia. On the one hand, we have an organisation that is not receptive to the Australian people and, on the other hand, we have an organisation that is not accountable to the Australian people.

I would like to spend some time on the issue of the Telstra zones that operate within the Shortland electorate—especially the Central Coast area. The Telstra boundaries discriminate against a large number of consumers. People on the Central Coast relate to Sydney and Newcastle, and these are STD calls. This results in consumers receiving big bills—large accounts. If Telstra were to look at the issue and revisit it, they would find that there would be greater usage and they would still be able to retain the enormous profits that they have. I am sure that we will hear about that later today.

The legislation needs to be revisited to change the zones. I ask the government to revisit this legislation so the Telstra zones do not discriminate against the people of the Central Coast. The government should be receptive to their cries to be treated in the same manner as other consumers. (Time expired)