by Tim Lohman

Federal government begins promoting telco consumer advocacy body

May 21, 20092 mins
GovernmentGovernment ITTelecommunications

The federal government has begun spruiking its Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), a communications advocacy body due to begin operations on 1 July.

In a speech yesterday to the Consumers’ Telecommunications Network Conference (CTN), communications minister Stephen Conroy said the ACANN was needed as it had been made plain that existing consumer advocacy arrangements, in place for the past decade, had failed end-users.

In light of this, the ACCAN’s primary responsibility would be to develop a coordinated consumer perspective and response to communications regulatory issues. It would also seek to improve the interface between consumer groups, government and industry.

“In a self-regulatory environment the ‘consumer voice’ needs to be strong if we are to maintain the right balance between industry and consumer interests,” Conroy said in the CTN speech.

“ACCAN will help ensure that consumers have sufficient ability to participate in industry decision-making processes. This will restore balance between consumer and provider interests,” he said in a statement.

As flagged in its budget last week, Conroy reiterated that the federal government would provide $2 million annually to fund the body in its efforts to raise the voice of consumers in the communications sector.

The government first announced the body in December last year with $700,000 in establishment funding.

Conroy said early stage research had begun at the ACCAN on customer service, the definition of ‘informed consent’, and emerging communications issues. The findings of the research would inform ACCAN’s policy development activities, he said.

He added that Allan Asher, formerly Deputy-Chair at the ACCC, will head up the ACCAN as chief executive. Teresa Corbin, formerly CEO of the CTN, will be the ACCAN’s deputy chief executive.