Question Time response - Optus Outage

Dr Andrew Charlton MP, Member for Parramatta (15:02): My question is to the Minister for Communications. The Optus network outage last week affected millions of Australians and businesses. What support is available for Australians impacted and what steps will the Albanese Labor government take in response to the recent outage?

The Hon Michelle Rowland, Minister for Communications (15:03): I thank the member for his question. Last week's Optus network outage impacted some 10 million Australian consumers and businesses across mobile, broadband and fixed-line services, underscoring just how essential connectivity is for all Australians. The impacts were felt across the economy and the community, with repercussions for eftpos systems, hospitals and public transport. Consumers and business customers were understandably frustrated. It was not just an inconvenience. For some small businesses it represented a whole day's trade and for Australians with a disability, including those relying on internet assisted technology, the outage would have been deeply distressing.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman is available to provide support to consumers and small businesses who were impacted if direct engagement with Optus does not result in a satisfactory outcome. The TIO has useful and clear information on its website that is specifically relevant to this outage. The ACCC also offers information about the relevant rights under consumer law. I encourage all members to visit and and share these important materials with their constituents.

Australians expect and deserve better from their communications service providers.

It is essential that we understand what happened, what went wrong and what improvements can be made by the sector as a whole in order to reduce the risk of a future disruption of this scale recurring for any major telecommunications provider.

That is why I have tasked my department to establish a post- incident review. My department is currently working on the terms of reference, and the government will make further announcements in due course. This will include an examination of issues, such as the adequacy of regulatory settings to support access to 000 emergency services, amongst other important matters. Importantly, independently, the regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, has also announced that it has commenced an investigation into Optus's compliance with rules requiring emergency calls to be successfully carried from each telecommunications provider to the emergency call service, which is Telstra. Our government will carefully consider recommendations from the upcoming reviews to ensure regulatory and policy settings adapt and respond so as to keep Australian safe and reliably connected.