The CEPU has told an inquiry into Australian regional and rural telecommunications services that skill shortages are contributing to network problems in these areas.

Branch Organiser Shane Murphy, who reported to the inquiry on behalf of the Union, has also warned that without greater investment in training and in quality jobs, the telecommunications industry will not be able to deliver the high speed National Broadband Network (NBN) that Labor is committed to building. The Regional Telecommunications Review is being held as part of processes set up by the Howard Government at the time of the final privatisation of Telstra.

Under a privatisation package designed to win support from the National Party, such reviews were to be held by an independent committee every three and a half years, with any recommendations they made to be funded out of the $2 billion Communications Fund.

The current review started last year and events, including a federal election, have somewhat overtaken it since.

Labor now plans to roll the Communications Fund into its NBN project and guarantee services to “the bush” this way. All the same, the Government has extended the timetable for the review and appears to be happy to use it as a sounding board for regional and rural problems.

The Union’s submission focuses on the impacts of privatisation and cost-cutting on the quality of the telecommunications infrastructure in these areas, on working conditions in the industry and on overall telecommunications skill levels.

The CEPU believes that the NBN project offers an opportunity for the Government and industry to address these issues and hopes to win support from the Review committee for this view.

You can download a copy of the CEPU’s written submission to the inquiry by clicking here (PDF Document 726kb)

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