News National Labor to make NBN pay for ‘horror stories’

Labor to make NBN pay for ‘horror stories’

michelle rowland bill shorten susan lamb
Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland campaigned with Bill Shorten and Susan Lamb in Queensland on Sunday. Photo: AAP
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Labor has launched a plan to end NBN “horror stories” by ensuring compensation is paid to small businesses and families if service is not up to scratch.

But Communications Minister Mitch Fifield says the opposition is simply playing catch-up to the “real action” that has been taken by the Turnbull government to improve consumer safeguards.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says if elected to government Labor would put in place penalties for NBN Co under-performance, allowing for compensation.

In 2017, complaints about the National Broadband Network increased by 204 per cent.

But Labor says there are no meaningful remedies to make NBN accountable for missed appointments and customer downtime.

“We all know someone with an NBN horror story under Turnbull,” Mr Shorten said.

“Parents taking half a day off work only for a technician not to turn up for the fifth time, small businesses out of action for weeks because a fault isn’t fixed.”

NBN Co should lift its game on customer service or pay the price, he said.

There would be clear standards for connection timeframes, fault repairs and missed technician appointments.

Missing the timeframes would result in fines for NBN Co and compensation for customers.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission would have oversight.

Labor plans to work with the ACCC, NBN Co and experts to finalise the standards and penalties.

But Senator Fifield says under the direction of the government the Australian Communications and Media Authority is already putting in place enforceable standards, backed by penalties to make consumers are not left without working internet and phone service when connecting to the NBN.

“Labor are completely in the dark, floating thought bubbles that disregard the independent regulator’s inquiry, which is still to report,” Mr Fifield said in a statement.

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