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Wednesday, 12 May 2010
Page: 3306

Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) (4:48 PM) —The government welcomes the debate on the Do Not Call Register Legislation Amendment Bill 2009 and thanks the members who spoke in support of this bill, including those from the opposition. I am sure members would not mind my singling out the member for Chisholm for the important role that she has played over a long period of time as an advocate for this legislation.

The Do not Call Register Act 2006 was introduced in May 2007 to enable individuals to opt out of receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls by listing their fixed or mobile telephone numbers, used primarily for private or domestic purposes, on the Do Not Call Register. This bill, with our amendments introduced today, amends the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 to enable the registration of emergency service and government telephone numbers and all fax numbers, and extends the current registration period.

The bill introduces regulation of unsolicited fax marketing by prohibiting the sending of a marketing fax to a number on the register. The bill also makes consequential amendments to the Telecommunications Act 1997 to allow the Australian Communications and Media Authority to make codes and standards for the fax marketing industry. The ACMA will be required to make an industry standard dealing with fax marketing.

When the bill was introduced to parliament on 26 November 2009 it sought to extend the register to all telephone and fax numbers. Following introduction, the bill was referred for consideration by a Senate committee, where concerns were expressed by opposition members and business organisations about the extension of the register to business numbers, in particular in relation to the impact on business-to-business communications and costs of compliance. Further, a recent review of the Do Not Call Register scheme undertaken by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy identified that individual respondents strongly endorsed a longer registration period than the current three years.

As a consequence, and to facilitate the quick and timely passage of this bill, the government introduced amendments which removed the extension of the register to business numbers and addressed concerns raised about the three-year registration period. The opposition did not support an extension of the register to business telephone numbers. We have agreed to remove businesses from the revised bill and to undertake further research and consultation with regard to the merit of their being eligible to register. The government maintains an open mind on the issue of business numbers and intends to do further research in consultation with stakeholders, including those in the business community, including the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia.

The bill will enable the minister to specify by legislative instrument the period of registration. And the instrument will apply retrospectively to existing numbers and numbers whose registration lapsed following the three-year registration period. The amended bill now allows for the registration of emergency service and government telephone numbers and/or fax numbers.

I thank those who worked cooperatively with the government on the bill, including the Senate Environment, Communications and the Arts Legislation Committee, and I thank the opposition for voting with the government to ensure the timely passage of this legislation. I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.