David Littlerpoud MP David Littlerpoud

Telstra failing vulnerable customers “a matter of life and death”

February 9, 2023

Leader of The Nationals David Littleproud is calling for changes to Telstra’s Universal Service

Obligation (USO), following repeated failings of Telstra to help vulnerable customers.

An Australian Communications and Media Authority (AMCA) investigation has found Telstra failedto comply with its priority assistance obligations.

As a condition of its carrier licence, Telstra is required to provide priority assistance to customerswho have a life-threatening medical condition.

However, Telstra repeatedly failed to help vulnerable customers sign up for priority assistance,with 740 instances of Telstra being unable to locate records of assistance paperwork sent out.

There were even cases where some people passed away without a working landline.

Mr Littleproud described the findings as “outrageous”.

He said Telstra’s priority assistance obligation was required to send out a technician within 24hours (urban and rural areas) or 48 hours (remote areas) to fix landline issues or outages.

“This is a matter of life and death,” Mr Littleproud said.

“No vulnerable person should risk suffering a medical episode and be unable to call for help.

“It is unbelievable the investigation included incidents where people tried to call 000 but the

service wasn’t working and mobile service wasn’t available either – no Australian should everexperience such helplessness or fear.

“The ACMA investigation is further proof government intervention is needed to ensure Australiansin regional and remote areas have adequate – and safe – landline and mobile phone coverage.

“We need an updated USO to protect lives, including harsher penalties and better information andsupport for customers.

“The actions of Telstra are un-Australian and unacceptable. The sooner we make changes to theUSO, the safer Australians in regional and rural communities will be.”