Robbie Katter is furious at one of Australia’s largest communications providers after Gulf residents were dangerously cut off for more than a week.
The State Member for Mount Isa said it was incomprehensible how Telstra customers could be so disadvantaged and treated so poorly because of their remote location.
“These types of prolonged outages are not ‘one off’ instances – unfortunately, they appear to be more commonplace in recent years,” he said.
“What will it take before this issue is dealt with properly?”
“This is a serious matter of safety – the only communication these residents have is via the internet, which is far from acceptable if an emergency situation arises.”
“We have residents are driving up-to 120 kilometres just to make urgent calls.”
Since learning of the incident the member has approached both the State Health Minister on the matter of emergency communications and intends to meet with the Minister assisting the Premier for North Queensland this week.
“There’s so much talk about developing the North, but how are business owners expected to run their operation without phone access for more than a week?” Mr Katter said.
“We understand this is also a federal issue and will be bringing it to the relevant minister’s attention.
Mr Katter said it was time that someone at Telstra took responsibility for the mess.
“We saw a Brisbane-based CEO sacked because trains were running 15 minutes late,” he said.
“Yet in the Gulf, there’s been customers with telephone lines down for more than a week who are unable to run their business or make emergency calls.”
“Access to telephone communication can be a matter of life and death and I pray it doesn’t come to that before Telstra realise the seriousness of this issue.”
Mr Katter said he was fed up with Telstra offering hollow responses to customers.
“They say they care about customers in remote areas, but going on the level of customer service evidenced in the past week and in previous outages, it shows that is not the case,” he said.
“We have businesses that also suffer from daily drop outs and sometimes weekends without the use of eftpos, again leaving any chance of development in the dust,” Mr Katter said.
Mr Katter also called on Telstra to provide emergency satellite phones during outages.
“During ‘Black Saturday’ in Victoria, Telstra installed Satellite hubs which allowed people to use mobile phones, or they gave out satellite phones,” he said.
“It is extremely dangerous to not have any phone services, especially in such a remote part of the world.”