Interview with Karl Stefanovic and Sarah Abo, Today Show

HOST, KARL STEFANOVIC: Communications Minister Michelle Rowland joins us now from Canberra. Good morning, Minister. Thanks for your time. Have you managed to find the detainee yet?
 
MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS, MICHELLE ROWLAND: I know that my colleagues, Minister Clare O'Neil and Minister Giles are on this case at the moment, and they'll have more to say in the near future.
 
STEFANOVIC: It's not your portfolio, I get that. But can you understand in the community why the community thinks you're asleep at the wheel?
 
ROWLAND: We appreciate that this decision of the High Court is not one that the community would have been expecting and certainly one that the Government opposed. That's why we are doing everything we can as a Government, including the speedy passage of legislation to deal with this, making sure that's in place, that we have the necessary arrangements in place with law enforcement authorities. Because this is about keeping the community safe.
 
STEFANOVIC: Yeah, but there's someone on the loose. You don't know where they are.
 
ROWLAND: And indeed, law enforcement is doing their job right now to bring that to a conclusion.
 
STEFANOVIC Okay, let's move on. Your government can't be talking about keeping the community safe when you can't even obviously track all those details. I'll leave that for another day. But moving on. Optus will be put under the microscope as part of a probe into the telco's network meltdown the specific focus on why hundreds of Triple Zero calls weren't connected during the outage. That's just not good enough, is it?
 
ROWLAND: That's right. It’s one of the key areas of focus of this investigation. That's to ensure that the Triple Zero service is one that operates properly, that consumers have confidence in Triple Zero. And that everything is done in those interdependencies between networks to make sure that we've got that proper resilience, and that this is functioning properly. We're also, of course, looking at the consumer angle, and that is the key focus of this investigation. This includes the adequacy of customer communications complaints, escalations, but also the compensation framework within which that operates.
 
HOST, SARAH ABO: Well, we know straight away that the communication was certainly not adequate. I mean, you stepped in, you were filling the void during that time because we heard literally nothing from Optus. Is there anything the government could have done anything differently? Did you have any powers to in that period while we still waited to hear from Optus?
 
ROWLAND: This is the reason for this being included in the terms of reference. We did consult widely with consumer groups, small businesses and other key stakeholders in formulating these terms of reference. The review will be ably led by Mr Richard Bean, who has a long and distinguished career, including with the regulator. He will be conducting a thorough investigation that includes industry, government, the community in general and the adequacy of those regulatory systems. What this will do, it's an opportunity to lift the bar in every respect in order that customers are properly serviced.
 
We know how important connectivity is in every way; broadband, mobile and fixed line services. We are so reliant on that connectivity. So, it is opportune that we are proactive here. We get a proper evidence base, that government considers that closely, and we make any necessary changes going forward.
 
STEFANOVIC: So, will the review look at the compensation issue?
 
ROWLAND: The review will look at compensation in terms of the adequacy of complaint handling, escalation, the existing regulatory scheme is there, the operation of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) in that. So, it will look at the framework. In terms of individual consumer complaints, there were some 10 million customers who were impacted. What we are seeking to do here is examine the way in which this is operating as a whole, what improvements can be made, whether there has been overall compliance or whether, again, we need to lift the bar in terms of servicing customers better.
 
ABO: We know that of course, a lot of Australians and businesses were impacted by this. So, Minister, if they want to try and get in touch, you're asking for their submissions. How can they do that?
 
ROWLAND: Go to the Department of Communications website, this has just been announced today. That will be set up very shortly for consumers to be able to make comments to this and the investigation will be consulting widely across a range of stakeholders and industry and report to government by the 29 February. We'll take all of that on board as we look at changes that can be made in future and provide a thorough response.
 
STEFANOVIC: Minister, good luck with it. Appreciate your time today.
 
ABO: Prepare for an avalanche.
 
STEFANOVIC: That's it.
 
ROWLAND: Thank you.