Veteran lobby organisation the Australian Telecommunications User Group (ATUG) is set to wind up after over 30 years of representing telecommunications customers.
Just four months after the resignation of managing director Rosemary Sinclair, ATUG chairman David Swift yesterday announced that the board of directors had decided that it was time to close the organisation, citing a decline in membership and the rise of a number of similar organisations in the last few years.
"Today, the ATUG message is effectively bolstered by a number of consumer organisations, as well as regulators and policies, which promote the long-term interests of end users. Telecommunications users now have ready access to research and information from a wide array of sources," he said in a statement. "Consequently, ATUG has been experiencing a decline in its membership base, and the board believes it is now the right time for ATUG to cede to others the continued promotion of end-user interests in the broadband-enabled world of NBN [National Broadband Network]."
Swift also thanked members for their contribution over the past 30 years of the company.
"As ATUG closes its doors and takes its place in the evolution of telecommunications in Australia, the end-user community will continue to benefit from your work," he said.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said in a statement that he was sorry to hear ATUG was closing its doors.
"ATUG have made an invaluable contribution to the development of telecommunications policy in Australia for more than 30 years, promoting the interests of end users and ensuring they have a voice in debates about telecommunications issues," he said.
Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull shared Conroy's sentiment but said that organisations in ATUG would be needed more than ever as the NBN rolled out.
"The organisation and its members have made a powerful contribution to the telecommunications debate over many years. Sadly, consumers will need more representation rather than less in an NBN world, where the government-owned monopoly will have power to increase prices on most products by 5 per cent more than inflation, and will have no competitive pressure to respond to customer concerns," he said in a statement.
In July, Conroy announced that Sinclair would lead the government's Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee, tasked with assessing the adequacy of telecommunications services in rural and remote areas of Australia.