On page 16 of Transurban’s submission, it states, “We are focused on continual improvement of customer assistance, including the recent appointment of a Customer and Communities Advocate to add greater internal focus on our customer assistance efforts, and more external engagement to inform and educate the community on how tolling debts are best avoided.”
They do not name the Customer and Communities Advocate, however a Google search returned a result for that job title. Jean Ker Walsh’s LinkedIn profile lists her as the Customer and Communities Advocate and the mobile version of LinkedIn shows that as at 27 July 2017, Ms Walsh has been in the role for 0 months.
The timing of Ms Walsh’s role is interesting considering that her job title and appointment appears to have happened shortly after the announcement of the Senate inquiry. A search of Transurban.com, GoVia.com.au and CityLink.com.au under the term “Walsh” returned no results. A Google search under the term “Jean Ker Walsh” returned no news results about her new role as the Customer and Communities Advocate.
Further, after the Senate inquiry on 8 August 2017, Transurban released their full year results and a 73 page investor presentation. No mention there either. As a matter of fact, the only place we could find a mention of this specific role was in Transurban’s submission and Ms Walsh’s LinkedIn profile. In late August 2017, we also made calls to Transurban’s offshore call centre and their specialist team in Brisbane. The staff had no knowledge of an advocate, and suggested we were perhaps thinking of the Tolling Customer Ombudsman.
It is interesting to note in the Sep 2012 – Feb 2013 TCO Tolling Customer Ombudsman (TCO) Review, that Michael Arnold notes Jean Ker Walsh as a driving force behind the establishment of the TCO. According to SBS, Jean Ker Walsh has been, at one time or another, a spokesperson for Transurban, and according to SMH, is said to be the former 3AW political journalist and one-time spin-doctor for Premier John Cain.
Why is this information important? It is important because it demonstrates how Transurban uses PR and smoke and mirrors to give the impression that they go above and beyond when it comes to serving their customers, when in reality it is often not what it seems.