PREMIER Ted Baillieu has highlighted the south-west communications outage in Canberra today, calling for national disaster relief payments for residents and businesses majorly impacted by the November 22 fire in the Warrnambool Telstra exchange.
Before today's Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra, Mr Baillieu described the outage as a social and economic disaster.
He said he would be asking Prime Minister Julia Gillard this afternoon to expand a federal inquiry to examine eligibility for disaster relief arrangements.
''Some 60,000 people without communications, without eftpos, without capacity to do business and this may well be the first time we have had a communication failure of this size and substance and impact," the premier said.
''We'll be asking today of the Commonwealth to expand the inquiry that has been announced to include social and economic impacts and also to look at emergency disaster relief responses,'' he said.
There are disaster relief and recovery assistance for natural disasters, but not for communication network failures.
Mr Baillieu has previous called on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to visit the area, saying the
Federal Government has failed to recognise the significance of the problem.