CANBERRA, AAP – Telecommunications companies would be required to leave customers on hold for no more than five minutes, under a new federal push for more scrutiny of the industry.
A group of 17 coalition MPs plan to back a bill making executives of phone and internet companies more accountable for services in urban and regional areas.
The private member’s bill proposes making bonuses for executives dependent on improvements to customer service, while customers who lose service at their home or business for longer than six hours during a month-long period will get that month free.
The bill is being put up by Liberal MP Julian Leeser, following long-running issues with phone and internet coverage in his northwest Sydney electorate of Berowra.
“Telecommunications is an essential service people rely on, but for many people, the telco service is worse today than it was 20 years ago,” Mr Leeser said.
“The telcos don’t care, and they get away with it because there are no drivers forcing them to care.
“This is especially the case for Telstra, which remains the monopoly provider in so many communities.”
The draft exposure bill also proposes introducing a universal mobile service obligation, under which residents would have the right to be able to make a phone call or access the internet regardless of coverage levels or location.
Telcos would also be required to publish details of the number of complaints they receive in their annual reports.
Companies and executives would also be financially responsible for any preventable deaths caused by inaction.
Under the bill, if a coroner found a death could have been prevented if a telco had acted differently there would be a significant financial penalty.
“Everyone has a story about poor coverage and poor customer service. There simply isn’t enough accountability,” Mr Leeser said.
The draft legislation was released for public comment on Thursday.