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Tuesday, 10 December 2002
Page: 7671


Senator Webber asked the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, upon notice, on 15 November 2002:

(1) What was the reason for reducing funding to the Consumers' Telecommunications Network.

(2) How much was its funding reduced (both as a percentage and the actual amount).


Senator Alston (Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) The Consumers' Telecommunications Network (CTN) receives funding from the Commonwealth through the Telecommunications Consumer Representation Grants Program under section 593 of the Telecommunications Act 1997.

Funding under this Program is allocated each year as the outcome of a competitive process where applicants are asked to specify the amount of funds sought and how they would propose to use the funds. Applications are assessed against pre-determined selection criteria. The selection criteria were amended in 2002-03 to give greater priority for representation of people with disabilities and consumers from regional, rural and remote areas, in accordance with the Government's response to the Telecommunications Service Inquiry.

Funding sought by applicants may exceed the funds available. In 2002-03, total funding sought was $2.8 million, however only $700,000 was available. Only one of the 14 successful applicants received the amount of funding sought.

In these circumstances, the Government must balance the available funding against the quality of applications and the amount of funding sought.

(2) The grant made to the Consumers' Telecommunications Network was $280,000 in 2001-02 and $245,000 in 2002-03.