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Notice given 28 November 2003

2415  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) Can the Minister confirm that Telstra’s basic access revenue increased by $211 million to $3.091 billion during the 2002-03 financial year following large line rental increases, despite the number of Telstra basic access lines decreasing from 10.4 million to 10.1 million; and (b) given that call costs do not appear to have decreased, does this represent a $200 million increase in Telstra’s profits.

(2) Can the Minister confirm that local call revenue decreased by $76 million to $1.567 billion, or approximately 5 per cent, in the 2002-03 financial year and the number of billable local calls also decreased by around 5 per cent  from 10.269 billion to 9.794 billion; and (b) does the similar revenue and volume decrease in local calls indicate that Telstra is not passing on reduced local call costs in 2002-03, as required by the price controls which require local call prices to decrease together with other call costs.

(3) Given that Telstra’s annual report apparently indicates that Telstra is making a windfall out of line rental increases, and that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has already raised doubts about whether Telstra is complying with price controls, will the Minister investigate whether Telstra is complying with their already generous price control arrangements.

2419  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) Can the Minister confirm newspaper reports of July 2003 that Telstra staff had their individual call centre performance records displayed on white boards for all staff to see.

(2) Are Telstra call centre staff electronically monitored for toilet breaks and personal calls, as suggested in these newspaper reports.

(3) Are Telstra call centre staff working to targets that require them to end customer calls as quickly as possible; if so, what are those targets; if not, can an explanation be provided of why Telstra employees often disconnect calls without giving customers the opportunity to thank them for providing a number or change a direction when a customer uses the premium 12456 call connect service.

(4) (a) What proportion of Telstra customer service call centre staff are in-house Telstra employees; and (b) what proportion of this work is outsourced to private companies.

(5) Is any Telstra telephone customer service work outsourced overseas; if so, can details be provided.

2421  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) When does the Government plan to reintroduce the Communications Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 2) into the Senate.

(2) Given that Ms Catherine Smith of the Attorney-General’s Department stated during the inquiry by the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Legislation Committee into the Communications Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2003, that the intention of the bill was not to disconnect individuals’ phone services: will the Government consider the recommendation in the committee’s minority report that the provisions of the bill that potentially enable the Government to disconnect individuals’ telephone services be redrafted.

2423  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—Has the review of the adequacy of local news and information programs in regional Australia been completed; if so: (a) has the board of the Australian Broadcasting Authority considered any report arising from the review; if so, what were the main findings of the review; and can details be provided of any recommendations and how these recommendations will be implemented; if not, when is this review expected to be completed; and can details of the review’s findings and recommendations be provided.

2426  Senator Ludwig: To ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General—

(1) Is the department aware of any criticism of the Legal Aid Needs Study conducted by John Walker Consulting Services and Rush Social Research on behalf of the department; if so, can details of the criticism be provided.

(2) Is the legal aid funding model derived from the Legal Aid Needs Study subject to review; if so: (a) which organisation or individual  is conducting the review; and (b) when will it be completed.

(3) Has any new research into a revised legal aid funding model been commissioned since the John Walker Consulting Services and Rush Social Research study; if so: (a) when was the research commissioned; (b) which organisation or individual is conducting the research; and (c) what is the cost of the research.

(4) If research into a new legal aid funding model has not been commissioned, why not.