Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has flagged intentions to reform the government's peak telco complaints body, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), releasing a discussion paper for comment late this afternoon.
The discussion paper seeks to examine whether the current structure, funding and governance process for the TIO are appropriate. The government posed questions as to what could be modified to make it a more efficient complaints handling body, whether that includes greater transparency or greater powers to intervene in disputes between telecommunications providers and consumers.
In a statement, Conroy said he had called for the review, because the number of complaints received by the TIO was unacceptably high.
"The recently released TIO statistics show that complaints to the ombudsman remain at very high levels and this is not acceptable," Senator Conroy said. "While I acknowledge the hard work the TIO does to deliver consumers with quick and effective solutions, I want to ensure it has the appropriate tools to deal with complaints."
In its latest report released last month, the TIO noted a 9 per cent increase in new complaints to the TIO in the last six months to 31 December 2010, with Vodafone sporting particularly bad performance. The TIO reported a 96 per cent increase in complaints for the telco, with consumers angry over its troubled 3G network.
Submissions for the discussion paper are due by 31 March 2011. Conroy said that options for reform of the TIO will be put forward sometime in the first half of this year following consultation.