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Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Australian PM Scott Morrison acting as an IPA stooge on the 2019 election campaign trail

The hard-right lobby group the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) told the Liberal Party of Australia to jump to it……..

IPA, on 12 April 2019, the day after the federal election date was set:


15 policies the Coalition should implement but will not and 5 policies they should not implement but will

John Roskam, Executive Director and Daniel Wild, Director of Research PARLIAMENTARY RESEARCH BRIEF A research note from the Institute of Public Affairs distributed to all Australian parliamentarians 12 April 2019
For more information contact Daniel Wild, Director of Research at

15 policies the Coalition should implement but will not

1. Remove all references to race in the Constitution Martin Luther King, Jr stated “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.” But Australia’s Constitution currently divides Australians by race. Section 25 of the Australian Constitution, titled “Provision as to races disqualified from voting’, while today redundant remains an affront to Australians’ sense of egalitarianism. Similarly, Section 51(xxvi) of the Australian Constitution gives the Commonwealth government the power to make laws on the basis of race.All Australians are equal and should be treated as equal before the law. Therefore, both provisions should be discarded and references to race in the Constitution must be erased.

2. Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (1975) Free speech is inextricably linked to the Australian way of life. Australians should be able to enjoy and participate in open and unfettered discussion about issues of import to the future of our democracy and our nation. Section 18C stops this from happening. It is an unconscionable and egregious limitation on the free speech rights of all Australians and must be abolished.

3. Withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement The Paris Climate Agreement will increase the cost of electricity production by at least $52 billion by 2030 without making any noticeable difference to the environment. The four largest greenhouse gas emitters in absolute terms are not in the Paris Agreement (the United States) or their emissions are not constrained by the Paris Agreement (China and India) or are not on target to meet their obligations under the Paris Agreement (the European Union). It is not in Australia’s national interest to remain party to the Agreement.

4. Implement a flat income tax Australia’s income tax system punishes success and discourages upward economic mobility. Its interaction with the welfare system also creates welfare traps through high effective marginal tax rates which keeps too many Australians poor and trapped in a poverty cycle. To reduce poverty, expand economic opportunity, promote equality, all Australians should face the same income tax rate.

5. Reduce the corporate tax rate to below 20 per cent, in line with competitor nations The top marginal company tax rate in Australia of 30 per cent is the third highest in the developed world, and well above the OECD average of 24 per cent and competitor nations such as the United States (21 per cent), the United Kingdom (17 per cent from 2020), and Singapore (17 per cent). Australia’s high corporate tax rate is a key reason why business investment is just 11.5 per cent of GDP, which is lower than the rate that prevailed during the Whitlam years.

6. Appointment of High Court Justices to be rotated between the six states and the Commonwealth The Commonwealth Government is too big, powerful, and interventionist, and state governments have too small of a role in the operation of Australia’s federation. A key reason for this is that the Commonwealth alone is responsible for appointing Justices to the High Court of Australia. This has unsurprisingly led to the appointment of Judges who favour an expansion of Commonwealth power at the expense of state governments. To correct this imbalance, state governments should play a central role in appointing High Court Justices.

7. Double the size of the House of Representatives, and halve the size of the Ministry Canberra is too detached and removed from the concerns of mainstream Australia. 

This is partly a reflection of the size of individual electorates. Almost every Federal electorate contains more than 100,000 voters. This is too many. To get government closer to the people there should be a larger number of electorates with fewer voters, resulting in each voter having a louder voice. In addition, the number of Members of Parliament who are a part of the Ministry at any point in time has grown rapidly over the past two decades. Appointing members to the Ministry, the Outer Ministry, and as Assistant Ministers is a deliberate strategy to silence debate and reduce the influence of backbenchers. For Australia’s democracy to become more robust as in the United Kingdom and the United States, the number of Members of Parliament in the Ministry, Outer Ministry, and as Assistant Ministers should be reduced from 41 to 20.

8. Privatise the ABC In a free society the government should not own and operate its own media company. The media market in Australia is highly competitive. Online platforms have transformed and disrupted traditional approaches to media. Consumers have never had more choice about where to source their news and opinions on current affairs. Moreover, the ABC is unremittingly bias. Its staff are five times more likely to vote for the Greens compared to the general population. The ABC is beyond reform. New leaders will not fix the problem, regardless of their experience or intention. The ABC must be privatised.

9. Re-introduce the debt ceiling Gross government debt is currently $546 billion, all of which must be paid back by today’s young Australians via higher future taxes. One approach policy-makers can take to reduce government debt, or at least reduce its growth, is to re-introduce the debt ceiling. A debt-ceiling places a limit on how much the Australian government can borrow. Raising the debt ceiling requires an Act of Parliament, which ensures the issue will be debated and receive the public attention it deserves. A debt ceiling was implemented by the Rudd government in 2007 and it was set at $75 billion. With the support of the Greens, the Abbott government with Joe Hockey as Treasurer abolished the debt ceiling in 2013 as debt approached $300 billion.

10. Hold a Royal Commission into the Bureau of Meteorology’s tampering with temperature and climate data The Bureau of Meteorology appears to have tampered with temperature and climate data and to have re-written history to make it appear as if the temperature is higher than it actually is, and that is has risen faster than it actually has. Australians deserve to know the truth about their public institutions. The only way to find the truth about potential temperature data manipulation is to hold a Royal Commission into the Bureau of Meteorology’s activities.

11. Abolish compulsory superannuation Compulsory superannuation is a tax on workers’ wages which is coercively redistributed to the Unions. Australian workers should be free to decide how much of their own income they are willing to defer until retirement, and how much they need in the present to spend on items such as housing, education, and health care. For more information contact Daniel Wild, Director of Research at

12. Abolish the Renewable Energy Target and end all subsidies to wind, solar, and hydro-electricity generators Subsidies to renewable energy generation in Australia are expected to reach $60 billion by 2030. The Renewable Energy Target at the Commonwealth level, as well as state-based targets, have been the main contributors to this subsidy blow-out. Because renewables are uncompetitive, expensive, and unreliable, Australia’s electricity prices have increased by 120 per cent over the past decade – around double the rate of inflation. This has a disproportionate effect on the lowest income earners who spend a higher portion of their income on energy than others. Moreover, this cost comes at no noticeable benefit to the environment. For example, over the period of 2001 (when the RET was first implemented by the Howard government) to 2014, the RET resulted in 0.005 per cent fewer carbon emissions globally from human sources which in turn account for just three per cent of total emissions.

13. Introduce a one-in-two-out approach to reduce red tape Red tape is the single biggest impediment to business investment, job creation, and economic opportunity in Australia. Each year red tape reduces economic output by $176 billion, which is equivalent to 10 per cent of GDP.12 This cost represents all of the jobs which are never created, the wages which never rise, the businesses never started, and the dreams which go unfulfilled because of red tape. Governments should cut red tape by repealing two laws for every new law introduced.

14. Repeal the Fair Work Act The Fair Work Act denies hundreds and thousands of Australians the dignity of work. There are currently 1.7 million Australians who are either unemployed or unable to work the number of hours they want. This is largely due to the Fair Work Act which prevents employers and employees from reaching mutually beneficial employment agreements. The Fair Work Act is too complicated and broken to reform. It must be repealed in full. 15. Legalise nuclear power in Australia Australia has 30 per cent of the world’s uranium deposits, some of which we export to the rest of the world for power generation. Yet we forbid ourselves from using nuclear power for domestic energy generation. Meanwhile, Australia has the fourth highest electricity prices in the world. Section 140A(1) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999) states there is to be “no approval for certain nuclear installations” including “a nuclear power plant”. These four words – “a nuclear power plant” – should be removed from the Section to legalise the development of a nuclear power plant in Australia.  For more information contact Daniel Wild, Director of Research at

5 policies the Coalition should not implement but will

1. Do not hold a Referendum to divide Australians by race The proposal to establish the Constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Peoples would irrevocably undermine national unity and is a regressive throwback to the days when race played a central role in Australia’s Constitution. Similarly, the proposal to establish a separate entity in the Constitution to be ‘The Voice’ of Indigenous Australians is divisive and false - all Australians are represented by the Commonwealth parliament and are equal before the law. Race has no place in Australia’s Constitution.

2. Do not raise taxes Australia is a high tax nation and workers and families pay too much tax. Over the past decade real taxes per capita have risen by 11 per cent. According to the Reserve Bank of Australia, over the past year taxes paid by households increased by around 8 per cent, more than double the rate of growth in household income.15 This means more money is going to the government and less money can be spent on household essentials such as housing, child care, and education. The Coalition should not raise taxes, and ideally should reduce taxes.

3. Do not raise spending The true cause of high and rising taxes is high and rising spending. Every dollar of spending must be paid back with higher taxes, either today or in the future via the accumulation of debt which is a tax on the next generation of Australians. Government spending has increased from 23.1 per cent of GDP at the end of the Howard-era to 24.6 per cent today (not including off-Budget expenses and liabilities such as the NBN).16 In absolute terms spending has increased by approximately 80 per cent, which is the equivalent to 6 per cent per year.17 This is well above the average rate of inflation of around 2 per cent per year.

4. Do not proceed with Snowy 2.0 The Snowy Hydro 2.0 project will be remembered alongside the NBN as a costly, ineffective, outdated, and inefficient bureaucratic program which won’t solve the underlying public policy problem of high and rising electricity prices and unreliable supply. The project will cost at least $4.5 billion, it won’t become operational until at least 2024-25, and it will be a net energy user, meaning it will be a drain on the energy grid. Instead, governments should provide policy settings which allow for the development of reliable and cost-effective coal-fired power generation.

5. Do not introduce new anti-discrimination laws In the context of the Religious Freedom Review, it has been suggested that new anti-discrimination laws be introduced to protect freedom of religion. However, adding new restrictions through religious antidiscrimination laws would constitute a significant threat to the freedom of conscience of all Australians. Freedom, whether exercised for a religious purpose or not, should only be limited where the exercise of that freedom impacts another person’s freedom or peaceful use and enjoyment of their own property. The only way to sufficiently protect religious freedom is to remove laws that currently place restrictions on religious thought and practice.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison asked how high he should jump, then realised he had exposed the pathway he preferred if the party won at the 18 May 2019 federal election and quickly dissembled………

The Canberra Times, 18 April 2019:

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he has no plans to reverse a ban on nuclear energy, despite earlier saying he was open to the industry if it could "pay its way".
"It's not, not on the agenda ... but it's got to be self-sustaining," he told Tasmania Talks LAFM on Thursday.

"I'm not going to roll out tens of billions of dollars in subsidies, that's not the future for energy efficiencies."

Labor's environment spokesman Tony Burke took the chance to remind Mr Morrison nuclear power is against the law.

"It is extraordinary that Scott Morrison is now contemplating changing the law to allow nuclear power stations in Australia," he said.

Mr Burke said Jervis Bay, Townsville, Bribie Island and Mackay have all been flagged as locations for nuclear power.

"Where is Morrison proposing to put his nuclear power plants? Which coastal community is under threat?"

But the prime minister later on Thursday took to Twitter to step away from his earlier comment.

"This is not our policy and we have no plans to change that," he tweeted.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Proof positive that money buys government policy?

Liberal MP for Warringah and soon to be Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, in April 2012 at the Institute of Public Affairs 70th Anniversary celebration promised:

“I want to assure you that the Coalition will indeed repeal the carbon tax, abolish the Department of Climate Change, abolish the Clean Energy Fund. We will repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, at least in its current form. We will abolish new health and environmental bureaucracies. We will deliver $1 billion in red tape savings every year. We will develop northern Australia. We will repeal the mining tax. We will create a one stop shop for environmental approvals. We will privatise Medibank Private. We will trim the public service and we will stop throwing good money after bad on the NBN. So, ladies and gentlemen, that is a big “yes” to many of the 75 specific policies you urged upon me…”

The Sydney MorningHerald on the subject of the IPA, 7 April 2016:

Four months from election and the people scratch their heads. Why, again, are we destroying the Reef for some billionaire Indian coalminer? Why fund private schools and de-fund public ones? Above all, how did Australia go from a country where the poor occasionally stole the goose from the common to one where the rich are consistently rewarded for stealing the common from the goose? The answer, at least in part, appears to be the IPA.

The IPA has three member senators, David Leyonhjelm, Bob Day and James Paterson, and a fourth-in-waiting with ex-human rights commissioner Tim Wilson running in the lower house. It also has several state MPs and members with regular media gigs – like IPA senior fellow Chris Berg (The Drum and Fairfax) and board member Janet Albrechtsen, whose recent column in The Ozpuffed Paterson and Wilson as "outstanding warrior[s] for the freedom cause". They all talk a lot about warriors – which is also what Abbott called Credlin.

But the IPA's real power is the charisma of wealth. At its 70th birthday gala dinner in 2013, Rupert Murdoch gave the keynote. NewsCorp's Andrew Bolt was MC and opposition leader Tony Abbott called the IPA "freedom's discerning friend". Gina Rinehart, George Pell, George Brandis and Alan Jones were guests…..

Still, the IPA then seemed like harmless cranks. Now it seems they're all but writing government policy. Even that's not bad in itself. The wealthy are allowed their clubs, and governments must get ideas from somewhere. But when the private interest of Big Money consistently presents as public interest, it's time to worry. Big time.

We've heard much lately of illegal developer funding, which caused the NSW Electoral Commission to withhold $4.4 million from the NSW Liberals. But developers aren't the only group who might seek influence, and brown paper bags are not the only vehicle.

The IPA has long insisted NGOs should be transparent, but it's notoriously secretive about its own sources of money. (Executive director John Roskam says its donors get intimidated). But revealed sources include all the bad boys of Big International Money: media, oil, tobacco, genetics, energy and forestry. Who benefits from IPA policy? They do.

In 2012, the IPA published "Seventy-Five Radical Ideas to Transform Australia". I haven't done the math, but I'd say over a third are now law or seriously discussed.

DeSmog reporting on the IPA, 17 July 2018:

Australia’s richest person, mining magnate Gina Rinehart, has been revealed as a key funder of the right wing think tank the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) – a major pusher of climate science denial.

Rinehart’s company, Hancock Prospecting Proprietary Ltd (HPPL), donated $2.3m to the IPA in 2016 and $2.2m in 2017, according to disclosures made to the New South Wales Supreme Court.

As part of a long-running legal dispute over the use of company funds, Gina Rinehart’s daughter Bianca had served a subpoena to access documents that would have shed light on the two donations from HPPL to the IPA.

The IPA is an influential right wing think tank with close ties to Australia’s governing Liberal Party.  IPA fellows regularly appear in the media. The payments suggest that more than a third of the IPA’s income in 2016 and 2017 was from HPPL – majority-owned privately by Gina Rinehart.

According to Forbes, Rinehart was the seventh richest woman in the world in 2017 and Australia’s richest person, with current wealth estimated to be $17.6 billion.
The IPA is a registered charity but is not legally required to disclose its funders and has declined to reveal them in recent years, citing concerns that donors could be “intimidated”.

According to the court judgement, Bianca’s solicitors had been provided with a schedule of “donations and sponsorships” from HPPL where it was disclosed, the judgement said, “that HPPL paid or provided amounts to IPA in a total of $2.3 million for the 2016 financial year and $2.2 million in the 2017 financial year.”

The donations also raise questions about the way the IPA has disclosed the nature of its revenues. 

The IPA's 2017 annual report declared $6.1m of income but said that “86 per cent” had come from individuals. HPPL’s $2.2m donation constituted more than a third of the IPA’s income that year.

In 2016, the IPA reported that 91 per cent of donations were from individuals, but that year HPPL’s $2.3m donation constituted almost half the IPA's income of $4.96m that year.

DeSmog has emailed HPPL asking why it was supporting the IPA, if the donations were linked to specific work and if it was still a supporter. DeSmog also asked the IPA about the donations and if supporters should be concerned that so much if its income is derived from one person. IPA spokesperson Evan Mulholland replied: “No comment.”

Friday, 15 June 2018

What I learnt about NBN Co this week

It is easy to lose track of what federal government-owned NBN Co is up to these days, so I did a quick search of mainstream media reports and the company website. This is what I found.

In the nine months up to 31 March 2018 NBN Co listed $1,413 million in revenue, up from $665 million for the same period last year. Nevertheless it appears the company is operating at a loss.
NBN Co’s CEO earns est. $3.62 million per annum — approximately six times more than Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Million-dollar salary packages are paid to another four top executives.

More than 480 of NBN Co’s staff are on $200,000-plus salaries and 120 earn more than $300,000.

NBN Co paid $66 million in bonuses to its staff last financial year.

In February and March 2018 the company’s  three top executives spent almost $40,000 on business-class flights and accommodation during a trip to Spain to attend a conference.

Although NBN plans are advertised with speeds such as 25Mbps or 50Mbps, performance on fixed wireless drops in the evening and the CEO has stated that "We don't have the money to invest in this to take it above 6Mbps” – which means that many customers cannot get a decent image when streaming videos or live entertainment.

NBN Co has fobbed off customers 80,000 times since July last year – nine per cent of all scheduled appointments.

There were at least 42,510 formal complaints made about NBN services from January to December 2017.

More than one third of NBN users wish it had never happened, according to new research by released on 8 June 2018. Only 43 per cent of respondents still on an ADSL or cable Internet connection said they were looking forward to switching to NBN.

The basic NBN service is being redefined and entry-level retail prices for NBN broadband are set to rise.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Ballina not happy with second-rate NBN installation plans

The Northern Star, 4 May 2018:

BALLINA'S deputy mayor is calling on residents to speak out against about the NBNCo's plans to deliver "second class technology" to local residents.

Cr Keith Williams said he had been contacted by residents in East Ballina, Skennars Head and Lennox Head to say they would be getting "inferior" fibre to the node NBN connections.

But he said fibre to the kerb should be the minimum installation standard across the shire.

"We know that fibre to the node places more reliance on the copper network, limits potential speeds and is more expensive to upgrade," Cr Williams said.

"This places a real limit on the economic potential of the area, not just now, but potentially for years to come.

"It makes no sense whatsoever when you consider that all these areas are close to the coast and more exposed to the effects of salt water.

"This is precisely the areas where you want less reliance on copper."

Cr Williams said failure to oppose NBN rollout plans now, risked leaving residents in these areas with a second class NBN.

"NBN Co have insisted this is not second class technology, being essentially the same technology as fibre to the kerb," he said.

"In this they are correct, but they avoid the central point.

"The greater reliance on the old copper network means it is a second rate service, slower, more prone to dropouts and more expensive to upgrade.

"From my enquiries to date it seems there is no formal mechanism to seek a review of the NBN Co rollout plans.

"The only way these things change is by community pressure and adverse publicity.
"I'm asking everyone in the area to go to the NBN website, check what the rollout plans are for your house and if it says Fibre to the Node, let NBN Co know that it just isn't good enough.

"You deserve better."

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Problems with the Murray-Darling Basin plan just keep mounting and the NSW Northern Rivers needs to make sure these problems don't become ours

When it comes to the Murray-Darling Basin river systems there is never any really good news - we go from reports of town water shortages, pictures of permanently dry river beds and allegations of widespread water theft to the possibility of a fundamental legal error in the master plan circa 2012.

The Guardian, 2 May 2018:

One of Australia’s foremost lawyers has issued an extraordinary warning that the Murray-Darling basin plan is likely to be unlawful because the authority overseeing it made a fundamental legal error when it set the original 2,750-gigalitre water recovery target in 2012.

Bret Walker QC, who chairs the South Australian royal commission into the Murray-Darling basin plan, issued the warning in a second issues paper. He also spelled out the far-reaching implications of the plan being unlawful.

Not only does it mean that the original water recovery target of 2,750GL was likely to have been set too low to deliver the environmental goal of the Water Act and could be challenged in court, but it also means that amendments to the plan now being debated by the Senate are likely to be invalid as well.

These include a plan to trim 70GL from the northern basin water recovery targets and a suite of projects, known as the sustainable diversion limit adjustment projects, which would be funded in lieu of recovering 605GL in the southern basin.

Both are being strongly criticised by scientists and environmentalists because they believe that they further undercut the environmental outcomes of the plan. 
The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) says it has relied on the best available science in recommending the changes.

The new uncertainty over the validity of the amendments will make it difficult for crossbenchers to support them as the Coalition government has urged.

Walker has provided a roadmap for environmental groups or an individual affected to challenge the plan in court.

At the heart of his advice is his view that the Water Act directs the MDBA to ensure environmental outcomes are achieved when it set the environmentally sustainable level of take (ESLT) from the river system. This is the flipside of setting the water recovery target.

But instead of considering the environmental outcomes only, the MDBA applied a triple bottom line approach, giving equal weight to social and economic impacts of water recovery.

“The MDBA also appears to have approached the word ‘compromise’ in the definition of ESLT in a manner involving compromise between environmental, social and economic outcomes rather than in relation to the concept of ‘endangering’ or ‘putting in danger’ environmental criteria such as key environmental assets, and key ecosystem functions,” the SA royal commission said.

 “The commissioner is inclined to take the view that this approach to the word ‘compromise’ in s4 of the Water Act is not maintainable, or alternatively that he is presently unable to see how it is maintainable,” the paper says.

“There is also evidence that recovering an amount of water for the environment of 2,750GL does not, as a matter of fact, represent an ESLT in accordance with the definition of that term under the Water Act.”

Walker pointed to numerous reports, including a 2011 CSIRO report which said modelling based on a 2,800GL recovery target “does not meet several of the specified hydrological and ecological targets”.

There is also evidence that the MDBA received legal advice on more than one occasion, consistent with the commissioner’s concerns.

The issue of water sustainability in the Murray-Darling Basin affects not just those living in the basin and the economies of the four states this large river system runs through – it also affects the bottom line of the national economy and those east coast regions which will be pressured to dam and divert water to the Basin if its rivers continue to collapse.

One such region is the Northern Rivers of New South Wales and in particular the Clarence River catchment area and the Clarence Valley Local Government Area.

Almost every year for the past two decades there have been calls to dam and divert the Clarence River – either north into south-east Queensland or west over the ranges into the NSW section of the Murray Darling Basin.

The latest call came last month on 18 April from Toowoomba Regional Council in south-east Queensland:

The response came on 24 April via NBN News and it was a firm NO:

However, because communities in the Murray-Darling Basin have for generations refused to face the fact that they are living beyond the limits of long-term water sustainability and successive federal governments have mismanaged water policy and policy implementation, such calls will continue.

These calls for water from other catchments to be piped into the Basin or into SE Queensland are not based on scientific evidence or sound economic principles. 

They are based on an emotional response to fact that politicians and local communities looking at environmental degradation and water shortages on a daily basis are still afraid to admit that they no longer have the amount of river and groundwater needed to maintain their way of life and, are wanting some form of primitive magic to occur.

The Clarence River system is the most attractive first option for those would-be water raiders, but experience has shown the Northern Rivers region that once a formal investigation is announced all our major rivers on the NSW North Coast become vulnerable as the terms of reference are wide.

The next National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA) runs from 7-20 June 2018.

If Toowoombah Regional Council’s motion is placed on the assembly agenda it is highly likely that a number of councils in the Murray-Darling Basin will announce their support of the proposal.

Northern Rivers communities need to watch this NGA closely.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Well hoorah, NBN Co is to roll out its inbuilt obsolescence across Yamba commencing in June 2018

It has been reported in local media that NBN Co will be commencing the Yamba rollout of its allegedly high speed broadband in June 2018, with Maclean and Grafton rollouts to commence in January 2019.

This news is quite frankly underwhelming.

Whatever information NBN Co was giving out obviously didn’t include the type of connection that was on offer, as this important point was not mentioned by journalists and there is contradictory information on the company's website.

These three urban areas in the Clarence Valley are yet to hear if households and businesses are being offered fibre-to-the-curb, fibre-to-the-node or fixed wireless.

Because it is certain that the best option fibre-to-the-premises isn’t on offer to regional second cousins of the big metropolitan areas.

Personally I will carefully refuse to look at any construction works taking place in Yamba come June, July and August.

The sight of all those water-filled trenches will be too depressing.

Who starts extensive in-ground construction in winter at the low-lying, high water table mouth of a floodplain, I ask you?

* Image from Hakuri Sad Party

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Australian Minister for Communications and longstanding member of the far-right pressure group the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) is up in arms because Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman tells some home truths

On Tuesday 17 April the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman (TIO) sent out the media release in this post.

It looks suspiciously like the Minister is now approaching a scheduled review of telecommunications consumer protections and the complaints process with a view to quash an inconvenient truth –  that transfers to the version of the National Broadband Network (NBN) cobbled together by Tony Abbott and MalcolmTurnbull are a dismal failure for far too many Australian businesses and households.

Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman (TIO), media release, 17 April 2018:

Report highlights increase in complaints about landline, mobile and internet services

Australian residential consumers and small businesses made 84,914 complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman in the last six months of 2017 (1 July 2017 to 31 December 2017). In this period, complaints about landline, mobile and internet services, increased by 28.7 per cent compared to the same six month period in 2016.

Publishing the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s Six Monthly Update today (Tuesday 17 April, 2018), Ombudsman Judi Jones said “The telecommunications industry in Australia continues to experience significant change. An increasing range of products and services are being offered to consumers, expectations for the quality of phone and internet services are high, and the rollout of the National Broadband Network is changing the way we use telecommunications services.

“However, consumers still seem to be facing the same problems, particularly with their bills and the customer service they receive. Confidence in services being updated or transferred reliably, faulty equipment, and poor service quality were also recorded as key issues. Additionally, the wider issues relating to phone or internet problems such as debt management are concerning.”

Jones added, “Complaints about services delivered over the National Broadband Network continued to increase compared to the same six month period in 2016. This indicates the consumer experience is still not meeting expectations for all. Recent changes to regulation and an increase in our powers to resolve complaints are positive steps that will help improve the consumer experience.”

Highlights for the period 1 July 2017 to 31 December 2017 include:

* 84,914 total complaints were received
* 74,729 complaints (88 per cent) were from residential consumers
* 9,947 complaints (11.7 per cent) were from small businesses

Landline, mobile, internet, multiple services and property

Complaints for the period increased 28.7 per cent compared to the same six month period in 2016.

* 9,447 complaints (11.1 per cent) were recorded about landline phone services
* 24,923 complaints (29.4 per cent) were recorded about mobile phone services
* 23,785 complaints (28 per cent) were recorded about internet services
* 26,112 complaints (30.8 per cent) were recorded about multiple services*
* 647 complaints (0.8 per cent) were recorded about property*

* Charges and fees, unsatisfactory response from the provider (provider response), and poor service quality were the most common issues.

Small Businesses

Between 1 July and 31 December 2017 complaints from small businesses increased 15.6 per cent to 9,947 compared to the same period in 2016.

* Complaints from Small Businesses accounted for 11.7 per cent of total complaints for the period

* 2,178 complaints (21.9 per cent) were recorded about landline phone services
* 2,074 complaints (20.9 per cent) were recorded about mobile phone services
* 1,716 complaints (17.3 per cent) were recorded about internet services
* 3,937 complaints (39.6 per cent) were recorded about multiple services*
* 42 complaints (0.4 per cent) were recorded about property
*       The main issues affecting small businesses were charges and fees, unsatisfactory response from the provider (provider response), and no service.

Complaints by State

All states and territories in Australia saw a growth in complaints in the last six months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.

Queensland recorded the highest growth in complaints, an increase of 39.3 per cent, followed by Western Australia with 36.5 per cent.

Complaints by state (in alphabetical order) are as follows:

* Australian Capital Territory made 1,184 complaints, an increase of 11 per cent
* New South Wales made 26,914 complaints, an increase of 27.9 per cent
* Northern Territory made 504 complaints, an increase of 20 per cent
* Queensland made 16,418 complaints, an increase of 39.3 per cent
* South Australia made 6,552 complaints, an increase of 22.7 per cent
* Tasmania made 1,614 complaints, an increase of 33.1 per cent
* Victoria made 23,954 complaints, an increase of 30.5 per cent
* Western Australia made 7,381 complaints, an increase of 36.5 per cent

* The main issues affecting Australian states and territories were charges and fees, unsatisfactory response from the provider (provider response), and poor service quality

Services delivered over the National Broadband Network

Complaints about services delivered over the National Broadband Network increased 203.9 per cent to 22,827 on the same period in 2016.

* 14,055 complaints were recorded about service quality
* 8,757 complaints were recorded about delays in establishing a connection
*       The main issues affecting residential consumers and small businesses were unsatisfactory response from the provider (provider response), poor service quality, and connecting a service (connection/changing provider)


*From 1 July 2017, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman changed the recording of complaints. There are now five complaint service categories: landline phone services, mobile phone services, internet services, multiple services (where the consumer is complaining about more than one phone or internet issue), or a complaint about damage or access to property. The changes mean data will more accurately reflect the description of complaints given by residential consumers and small businesses.  The changes also make it easier to see the issues facing the telecommunication industry, helping providers improve the delivery of phone and internet services. Trend analysis will build over time from the start of this reporting period.