Neoh criticises breadth of inquiry

THE terms of a federal inquiry into Warrnambool’s crippling Telstra exchange fire are too narrow, the city’s mayor Michael Neoh says.

Cr Neoh said the inquiry seemed to be too focused on cause and infrastructure rather than the impact.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy would run the inquiry, looking at cause and effect, mitigation strategies and restoration of services.

He said information would be received from Telstra and a report would be made on the effectiveness of disaster recovery and service continuity planning and whether businesses affected had appropriate continuity plans. However, he mentions only one forum to hear about the meltdown’s impact on the community.

“I want to hear the views of the affected communities and relevant experts to ensure that disaster mitigation and service recovery plans are as effective as possible if similar events were to occur in the future,” the minister said.

According to Cr Neoh, that is way short of what is needed to understand the full impact on the region. 

“I think the terms are a bit weak,” Cr Neoh said.

“It seems to gloss over the financial impact to the community. It’s almost an insult just to have one forum.

“Unless a forum is well organised and planned it is just a hall full of people. I would like to see a submission process where councils and the public can participate.

“We also need to capture the views of the emergency management team and the effect it had on them.’’

Telstra’s regional manager Bill Mundy said a full report on the outage would be presented to the inquiry.

South-west mayors will meet in Warrnambool to discuss the fire’s impact.

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