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Friday, 26 November 2010
Page: 2400

Senator LUNDY (Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Citizenship and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister) (1:54 PM) —I rise to speak on the Radiocommunications Amendment Bill 2010. I do have some information that I think provides the assurances that the opposition is seeking in relation to this bill and am pleased to be able to report to the Senate that the application of the safeguards in the bill would be a matter for the Australian Communications and Media Authority before it allows the coexistence of class and spectrum licence in a spectrum band. The safeguards in the bill are that the ACMA must be satisfied, firstly, that the coexistence of class and spectrum licences in a spectrum band would not result in unacceptable interference to the operation of devices authorised under the spectrum licence and, secondly, that it will be in the public interest for the ACMA to allow coexistence of class and spectrum licences in a spectrum band.

In addition, the ACMA must consult all licensees of spectrum licences who may be affected by a coexistence proposal, and the ACMA has advised that it will consider coexistence proposals on an individual spectrum band basis. The ACMA will develop a limit for unacceptable levels of interference for the coexistence of class and spectrum licences in each spectrum band. Consistent with the bill, the ACMA will also undertake consultation with all potentially affected parties to ensure their views are fully considered in setting interference limits. The limit for unacceptable interference will, firstly, provide protection to incumbent primary services while allowing new technologies to take advantage of underutilised spectrum and provide new services to users, and, secondly, be developed after careful and thorough consideration of engineering models, equipment specifications and standards for likely devices that may operate or coexist in the band.

With regard to the public interest, the ACMA has advised that it will undertake a process to consider whether it would be in the public interest to issue a class licence in the spectrum licence space. The ACMA will, in this process, balance the cost of potential interference with the benefits of greater spectrum utilisation to ensure the most efficient outcome which maximises total welfare to the Australian community.

I trust those comments provide the assurance that the opposition is seeking, and I commend the bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.