On 8 June 2006, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts announced initiatives to facilitate more consultation and better information about any plans Telstra might have to remove payphones from a community.
To this end, the ACMA has established an enhanced complaints process for payphone removals—where the complaint has first gone to Telstra but the consumer remains unhappy with the outcome of Telstra’s decision, the complaint can be referred to the ACMA for investigation into whether Telstra may have breached its obligation to comply with the Standard Marketing Plan (SMP).
Telstra’s obligations in relation to payphone removals are set out in section 3.8.2 of its SMP. Section 3.8.2 sets out guidelines for the removal of payphones.
In addition, Telstra agreed to the following consultation process as part of the Minister’s payphone package:
- The placing of a notice in the payphone, three months prior to the intended removal according to the SMP criteria which also include:
- the grounds on which Telstra is intending to remove or relocate the payphone;
- instructions on how to comment on the removal or relocation; and
- a reference to the role of the ACMA.
- a letter to the local government that takes a similar approach;
- an acknowledgement letter to anyone who makes a submission (this includes a written letter or e-mail) ‘a complainant’; and
- a letter or e-mail advising the complainant of a post-consultation decision that provides the grounds for the decision and a statement that consumers can contract the ACMA if they have concerns that Telstra has not met its Universal Service Obligation.
Telstra will take into account any objections before making a final decision about the removal of services.
Telstra will retain appropriate documentation for 6 months following a payphone removal/relocation proposal.