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Monday, 9 December 2002
Page: 7367


Senator ALSTON (Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) (1:03 PM) —I move government amendment (1) on sheet EC224:

(1) Schedule 1, page 9 (before line 2), before Part 3, insert:

Part 2AIndustry development plans

15 Subclause 5(1) of Schedule 1

Repeal the subclause, substitute:

Declarations

(1) The Industry Minister may, by written instrument, declare that a specified kind of carrier is a declared kind of carrier for the purposes of this clause.

15A At the end of clause 5 of Schedule 1

Add:

Exemption certificates—applicants for carrier licences

(4) The ACA may issue an exemption certificate to an applicant for a carrier licence if the ACA is satisfied that, if the applicant were to become a carrier, the applicant would be a declared kind of carrier.

(5) The ACA must cancel an exemption certificate issued to an applicant for a carrier licence if the ACA is no longer satisfied that, if the applicant were to become a carrier, the applicant would be a declared kind of carrier.

Exemption certificates—carriers

(6) The ACA may issue an exemption certificate to a carrier if the ACA is satisfied that the carrier is a declared kind of carrier.

(7) The ACA must cancel an exemption certificate issued to a carrier if the ACA is no longer satisfied that the carrier is a declared kind of carrier.

Exemption—applicants for carrier licences

(8) If an exemption certificate issued to an applicant for a carrier licence is in force, subclause 4(1) does not apply in relation to the decision to grant the licence.

Exemption—carriers

(9) If an exemption certificate issued to a carrier is in force, this Part does not apply to the carrier.

15B After paragraph 1(x) of Schedule 4

Insert:

(xa) a decision under clause 5 of Schedule 1 to refuse to issue an exemption certificate;

(xb) a decision under clause 5 of Schedule 1 to cancel an exemption certificate;

15C Transitional—subclause 5(1) of Schedule 1 to the Telecommunications Act 1997

(1) This item applies if:

(a) a declaration was made by the Industry Minister under subclause 5(1) of Schedule 1 to the Telecommunications Act 1997 in relation to a specified kind of carrier; and

(b) the declaration was in force immediately before the commencement of this item.

(2) The Telecommunications Act 1997 has effect, in relation to the specified kind of carrier, as if the Industry Minister had made a declaration under subclause 5(1) of Schedule 1 to that Act (as amended by this Part) that the specified kind of carrier is a declared kind of carrier for the purposes of that clause.

(3) This item does not prevent the declaration referred to in subitem (2) from being varied or revoked by the Industry Minister in accordance with subsection 33(3) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901.

15D Transitional—subclause 5(6) of Schedule 1 to the Telecommunications Act 1997

(1) This item applies if, as a result of a declaration under subclause 5(1) of Schedule 1 to the Telecommunications Act 1997, Part 2 of Schedule 1 to that Act did not apply to a carrier immediately before the commencement of this item.

(2) The Telecommunications Act 1997 has effect, in relation to the carrier, as if the ACA had issued an exemption certificate to the carrier under subclause 5(6) of Schedule 1 to that Act.

(3) This item does not prevent the exemption certificate referred to in subitem (2) from being cancelled by the ACA under subclause 5(7) of Schedule 1 to the Telecommunications Act 1997.

Accepting the Senate's decision to retain the requirement for IDPs, the government remains concerned that the requirement for IDPs may act as a barrier to market entry, particularly for smaller carriers. Currently, applicants for a carrier licence must prepare an initial IDP in order to obtain a carrier licence, but thereafter they may fall within a category of exemptions as declared by the minister. This is a disallowable instrument subject to scrutiny by the parliament. The current exemptions are for small carriers with a total annual revenue of less than $5 million and with an annual capital expenditure of less than $20 million, and for carriers whose services are primarily to research or educational institutions.

Accordingly, the government proposes a further amendment that will improve the current process by allowing the ACA to issue exemption certificates to an applicant or a carrier where it is satisfied that the applicant or carrier would be or is an exempt carrier as declared by the minister. This will facilitate market entry by smaller carriers by removing an unnecessary administrative step saving time and money for both the applicant and the taxpayer. We welcome Labor's support.