On Sunday, April 18, our phone was disconnected.

The reason given later, was that a grading machine had excavated the cable on or near Westport Road, Jacks Creek.

On enquiry, I was transferred to a fault centre in the Philippines.

The Filipino lady asked me many questions on date of birth, full address, full name (three times) and to go through the house and disconnect all phones and connected instruments so she could test if the fault was in the premises or an external fault.

The lady informed me that if the fault was in the house, then I would be charged accordingly.

As an employee of Telstra for 40 years I worked on external plant duties in underground and aerial faults and maintenance, also internal installation work in homes and businesses as well as telephone exchange internal operations in Australia.

I also did contract work overseas in Bougainville, Saudi Arabia and Mt Hagen, so I found it quite unnecessary to run up and down stairs in a two-storey house, to disconnect four phones and a computer, when I knew where the fault would be.

In order to restore service an old and simple way would be to roll out a temporary interruption cable over the surface parallel with the underground damaged cable and beyond either side of the damage and splicing in a rotation cutover and by following the colour code and temporarily seal.

The permanent replacement could be completed at the linesman’s leisure. (Line servicemen do external plant duties not technicians).

The above temporary repair should take 1.5-2.5 hours not 12 days, their estimate.

Footnote: Reason for this attitude in today’s Telstra.

In 1999 Telstra decided to remove all staff affiliated with the union. They were offered redundancy. The replacement staff were given two weeks’ training.

The former linesmen were trained for two years in a training school and partnered by an experienced linesman for 18 months before being allowed to work without supervision.

B McPherson, Westport Road, Jacks Creek

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