Gillard urged to visit

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy have been urged to visit Warrnambool and see the damage and impact from the Telstra exchange fire.

South West Coast MP Denis Napthine told State Parliament yesterday the region felt  abandoned, neglected and ignored by the federal government which is responsible for telecommunications.

“It is time the Prime Minister and Senator Stephen Conroy came to south-west Victoria to see and hear first-hand the enormous adverse impact of this Telstra failure,” Dr Napthine said.

“If this happened in Sydney or Canberra the federal government would take action, but it has been asleep at the wheel.”

Federal MP for Wannon Dan Tehan also raised the issue in Canberra yesterday during an adjournment debate saying there was a perception in western Victoria the rest of the nation was oblivious to the communications blackout.

“I explained to the house what had happened, the importance of getting all services back as quickly as possible and the implications for the rest of the nation,” he said. 

“There is no doubt people in our region want to feel reassured that the federal government are aware of what’s happened here.”

See the rest of our Telstra blackout coverage.

Mr Tehan said he had told Senator Conroy’s office following the announcement of a federal inquiry into the incident there should be public forums in Warrnambool, Hamilton and Portland.

Dr Napthine said even seven days after the fire there were still thousands of businesses, families and services without essential telecommunications.

“Businesses have lost millions of dollars due to lack of EFTPOS, email and internet services,” he said. 

“This has been an economic disaster for south-west Victoria putting jobs and businesses at risk.”

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