INDUSTRY REACTION TO FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S CONSUMER SAFEGUARDS REVIEW PAPER

Sydney, 5 July 2018 - Communications Alliance has welcomed the long-awaited commencement of the Government’s Consumer Safeguards Review, which came through today’s release of a consultation paper addressing Redress and Complaints Handling in the sector.

Industry is digesting the proposals and will work closely with Government and other stakeholders on any refinements to the current framework that can improve customer service and complaint handling. 

Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton, noted that some of the reform proposals put forward in the paper are, in fact, already in place. These include:

  • requiring the publication of service providers’ complaint handling policies – and for these the be auditable by the industry regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). This is already required under the relevant industry Code and under the ACMA’s new Complaint Handling Standard; and
  • a requirement for the industry ombudsman (TIO) to report complaint data to the ACMA, and for the ACMA to collect, analyse and publish provider complaint data. The TIO already reports complaint data to the ACMA, and the ACMA’s new Record Keeping Rules prescribe processes for providers to report complaint and subscriber data to the regulator.

Mr Stanton said further scrutiny was needed on a proposal to remove the TIO and replace it with a new External Dispute Resolution (EDR) body.

“The proposal for changes to the dispute resolution steps could be readily accommodated by amendments to the TIO’s existing processes, if the proposal is deemed to have merit,

“The TIO is fiercely independent, with a strong independent Chair, independent Directors and even numbers of Directors with consumer and industry experience – it is funded by industry fees but not controlled by industry,

“Whether the cost and disruption inherent in dismantling the TIO and replacing it with a new body can be justified to achieve change that can happen in any event, needs to be critically considered.”

Mr Stanton noted that while the consultation paper spoke of rising TIO complaint volumes, the level of complaints had actually fallen significantly in recent months.

ABOUT COMMUNICATIONS ALLIANCE
Communications Alliance is the primary telecommunications industry body  in Australia. Its membership is drawn from a wide cross-section of the  communications industry, including carriers, carriage and internet  service providers, content providers, search engines, equipment vendors, IT companies, consultants and business groups.

Its vision is to  provide a unified voice for the telecommunications industry and to lead  it into the next generation of converging networks, technologies and  services. The prime mission of Communications Alliance is to promote the growth of the Australian communications industry and the protection of  consumer interests by fostering the highest standards of business ethics and behaviour through industry self-governance. For more details about  Communications Alliance, see www.commsalliance.com.au.

Media information contact:
Sefiani
Kurt Graham kgraham@sefiani.com.au
0431 478 558