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Wednesday, 16 March 2005
Page: 48

Senator COONAN (Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) (12:28 PM) —The government will not be supporting this amendment on the basis that there is simply no need for it. Under subsection 3(1) of the Telecommunications Act 1997, it says:

The main object of this Act … is to provide a regulatory framework that promotes … the long-term interests of end-users of carriage services …

Section 4 of the act provides:

The Parliament intends that telecommunications be regulated in a manner that … promotes the greatest practicable use of industry self-regulation …

                  …         …           …

but does not compromise the effectiveness of regulation in achieving the objects mentioned in section 3.

Section 4 of the act does not specify a preference for regulation but indicates that the promotion of self-regulation in telecommunications is subject to the objective that regulation promotes the long-term interests of end users. Section 4 also states the intention that telecommunications be regulated in a manner that does not impose undue financial and administrative burdens on participants in the Australian telecommunications industry. The government adheres to the view that self-regulation provides an efficient and effective means of achieving the objectives of communications legislation, not only in telecommunications but also in radio communications and broadcasting.

In a serious vein—I do not mean to be flippant—if this is passed and actually stands when it comes back to this place, it is not going to work because the amendments are drafted as a schedule and the ACMA Bill is a stand-alone bill which does not include schedules or amendments to other acts. As the amendment proposes to amend the Telecommunications Act and not the ACMA Bill itself, it should be made to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2004. I earnestly hope that, once we have a chance to reflect on all these points and consider just how out of sync the amendment is with the way in which the ACMA Bill is intended to work, we will no longer be concerned with this amendment.