Michelle Rowland warns telcos under ‘dynamic strain’ after Telstra swings axe on 2800 jobs

Australia’s “highly competitive” telecoms sector is under “dynamic strain”, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland has warned, after the country’s largest telecoms company, Telstra, revealed it will cut 2800 direct jobs before the end of the year.

Announced by Telstra boss Vicki Brady on Tuesday, the telecoms giant has moved the ax in what is the biggest round of redundancies for an ASX-listed company so far this year, with the job cuts part of a broader package to reduce costs and review the company’s pricing regime.

“It’s a very difficult time and I want to recognize these workers from the start,” Ms Rowland told Sky News on Sunday.

“This is a highly competitive industry and, in particular, where these workers are located is one of the most competitive parts of the telecommunications industry.

“Every industry in this area is under dynamic pressure,” Rowland added.

He highlighted technological advances, including artificial intelligence, as well as “the need for companies to restructure and prepare for the future.”

Rowland said the Government would continue to track further developments in the sector.

“Telstra is a private company. But it’s clear that these are real people with real jobs. It is a dynamic sector, constantly changing, and its margins are increasingly tight.

“So it’s something we continue…to monitor very closely.”

Following the development on Tuesday, Treasurer Jim Chalmers told reporters the Government would instruct the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to monitor Telstra’s change to ensure customers were not negatively affected.

While state governments, including Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales, are considering measures that would increase minimum age limits on social media platforms, Rowland has expressed her support for the measure.

“I think there should be age restrictions on social media,” Rowland said.

When asked what the age limit should be, Rowland did not provide a specific number, but argued that minors are “very sensitive” online.

“I know this from personal experience [children’s] brains are developing at those ages, there is no clear guide… people are different.

“But we know that the ages of 13 to 16 are vulnerable to development.”

In the May budget, the Albanian government announced a $6.5 million investment to trial online age verification technology, in a bid to reduce children’s exposure to age-inappropriate material.

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