Mayors join in closure protest

THE BACKLASH against Telstra's decision to close its Grafton call centre continues to ramp up with Coffs Harbour City Council Mayor Keith Rhoades now weighing into the issue.

Cr Rhoades yesterday come out in support of Clarence Valley Council Mayor Richie Williamson's plan to boycott the telco.

“Telstra's decision will have a devastating effect on Grafton so my support, personally, is with the view being taken by the Clarence Council and whatever support I can lend I will be pursuing,” Cr Rhoades said. “My personal view is that this is not an issue that one council should have to take on by itself; it should be a collective of support because although it may have happened to Grafton today, which town or regional centre could it happen to tomorrow?

“My disappointment is that a big Australian icon such as Telstra feels that regional people and regional centres don't count. We've got to flex our muscles on behalf of our communities; we are still a part of Australia and the time has come, I believe, when regional centres need to work a lot stronger together on these issues.”

Lismore City Council Mayor Jenny Dowell also recently added her voice to the growing chorus of opposition to Telstra's decision and said she could not stand silent about the closure of the Grafton call centre.

“Telecommunications affect everyone and when a company that has prided itself on being the telecommunications provider for regional Australia does something like this to one of our neighbours and friends, we all step up to object,” Cr Dowell said.

Cr Dowell said Lismore's own Telstra call centre was one of the largest regional call centres in the country.

“180 people work in the Lismore call centre so I will be seeking an assurance from Telstra that our call centre is safe as well as objecting strongly to what's happened in Grafton,” she said.

Telstra's decision to close the Grafton call centre has been met with strong community criticism since it was proposed over two weeks ago.

Cr Williamson vowed he would cancel his personal Telstra accounts and is now appealing to councils around the North Coast to review their own Telstra accounts.

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