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Thursday, 25 May 2006
Page: 12


Mr McGAURAN (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (9:52 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Do Not Call Register (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2006 deals with consequential matters relating to the enactment of the Do Not Call Register Bill 2006.

It makes amendments to the Telecommunications Act 1997 to enable ACMA to develop appropriate standards and industry codes for the operation of the telemarketing industry and facilitate effective investigation and enforcement of breaches of the Do Not Call Register Bill.

Industry standards will include minimum contact standards relating to issues such as the time telemarketers are permitted to call and what information they must provide about their organisation. These standards will apply to all telemarketers, including those exempt from the general prohibition on making certain telemarketing calls. The bill also allows the telemarketing industry to self-regulate through the development of codes of operation based on part 6 of the Telecommunications Act to deal with the making of calls.

Expected benefits

This is part of a comprehensive scheme to address a problem that affects a large number of Australians.

The telemarketing industry has attempted to address this problem but there are simply too many operators unwilling to raise their standards and too many offshore call centres offering reduced prices and low standards.

These arrangements benefit telemarketers and consumers.

Consumers will be able to complain to one body in relation to a number of aspects of telemarketing calls and will benefit by receiving fewer silent calls or randomly dialled calls. Consumers will be able to reduce the number of unwanted calls they receive from overseas and in Australia.

Telemarketers will make efficiency gains by not making calls to those who do not wish to receive them; will experience reduced compliance costs from having national standards legislation; and will have a level playing field with all telemarketers bound to high professional standards, rather than the industry being brought into disrepute by rogue operators. This implementation of a Do Not Call Register is generally supported by the telemarketing industry and consumers.

Conclusion

This bill will put in place a range of measures that will have the effect of reducing the level of unwanted commercial telemarketing calls. It will provide the public with the ability and the power to take effective action through their registration on the Do Not Call Register. The outcome will be that telephone users will have the ability to control the amount of unwanted calls they receive.

Debate (on motion by Mr Griffin) adjourned.