• 10 MAY 07
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    #722: Australian government enacts telecommunications “safeguards”

    The Australian government is apparently doing a massive national mailout with a glossy brouchure explaining all about how the government is safeguarding citizen’s rights under telecommunications. As usual, any thought of safeguarding people’s health is way off the agenda.

    Sunday 15 April 2007

    Telecommunications safeguards: pointing you in the right direction

    The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, today launched the regional telecommunications campaign: Your telecommunications safeguards: pointing you in the right direction.

    “Telecommunication services are essential for all individuals and businesses so it is important that they understand their rights and how to exercise them,” Senator Helen Coonan said.

    The campaign will consist of targeted television and radio advertisements, alerting people living in rural and regional Australia to the publication and distribution of a guide which provides details of how the Australian Government protects everyone”s right to essential telecommunications services.

    “More than 3 million residents across regional Australia will receive the guide over the following months. The guide explains what to do if you have a problem and also the safeguards for consumers which include:

    • A guarantee that all Australians are entitled to reasonable access to basic fixed phone services and to payphones.
    • fixed timeframes for fixing phones and meeting appointment times. If these are not met, you may be entitled to compensation.
    • faster phone connections for consumers certain medical conditions.
    • untimed local calls in most circumstances and capped local call prices for fixed phones.
    • A dedicated Ombudsman to handle complaints about telecommunications.

    “The Australian Government is committed to consumer safeguards which deliver basic, vital telecommunications services to Australians, regardless of where they live,” Senator Helen Coonan said.

    “We are also committed to investing in infrastructure so that all Australians have access to world class telecommunications services at a price point they can afford.

    “The Government, through the $1.1 billion Connect Australia package and the $162.5 million Australian Broadband Guarantee will improve existing infrastructure to enhance all telecommunication services to regional, rural and remote Australia.

    [Don’s note: compare these amounts to the government’s previous committment of $4.5 million for cell phone health research that was effectively put under the control of Motorola and Telstra.]
    “This investment will deliver more affordable and available broadband services, improved access to mobile phone services, the connection of schools, hospitals and universities to high speed networks, and the extension of vital telecommunications services to remote Indigenous communities.”

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