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Telecommunications Amendment (Mobile Phone Towers) Bill 2011

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Telecommunications Amendment (Mobile Phone Towers) Bill 2011









(Circulated by authority of Senator Bob Brown)










BILL 2011




The Bill seeks to strengthen the requirements for community consultation in relation to the installation of telecommunications facilities and require the precautionary principle to be considered in decisions about the location of such facilities. It also removes the exemption of state and territory laws in relation to the installation and maintenance of such facilities. 


The Bill also provides for a 5 yearly review by the Radiation Health and Safety Advisory Council of the radiofrequency exposure standards.






Clause 1 - Short Title


1.       This is a formal provision specifying the short title.


Clause 2 - Commencement


2.       The Bill's provisions are to commence on the day the Act receives the Royal Assent.


Clause 3 - Schedules


3.       This clause provides that an Act that is specified in a Schedule in amended or repealed as set out in that Schedule, and any other item in a Schedule operates according to its terms.



Schedule 1 - Amendments to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998


Items 1 and 2

4.       Items 1 and 2 provide for the Radiation Health and Safety Advisory Council to review the radiofrequency exposure standards every five years, with the first review completed within 6 months of the commencement of the Bill. The review must consider the standards applied by other countries and the CEO must make the report of the review public.



Schedule 2 - Amendments to the Telecommunications Act 1997


Item 3

5.       Item 3 provides that obligations under Schedule 3 of the Telecommunications Act that apply to carriers are also imposed on other entities that install or maintain facilities. "Facilities" is defined in section 7 of the Act.


Items 4 and 5

6.       Items 4 and 5 are concerned with the definition of "tower" and expand the definition to include antenna, aerial, dish in the first instance and mounting piece, bracket, header, spacer, remote radio unit, antenna, dish, aerial or similar in the second instance. 


Items 6 and 7

7.       Item 6 provides that a tower as defined in section 4 cannot be the subject of a low impact determination made by the Minister under subclause 6(3).


8.       Item 7 is consequential on item 6.


Item 8

9.       Item 8 provides that for the purposes of section 7 the maintenance of a facility does not include any activity that increases the electromagnetic radiation emitted by the facility.


Items 9 and 10

10.   Item 9 provides that for the purpose of determining under of section 7 whether an activity amounts to maintenance of a facility the measurement of the height of a tower is to include any antenna, aerial, dish or other attachment. 


11.   Item 10 expands the definition of a tower for the purposes of the section to include the elements in item 5 above.


Items 11 and 12

12.   Item 11 provides the Minister must make a Code of Practice under section 15 and item 12 requires the Code of Practice to provide for:

·          notification and consultation requirements on carriers in relation to owners and occupiers of land within 500 metres of any facility that will emit electromagnetic radiation;

·          requirement on carriers to provide full disclosure of plans for the facility being installed (including cumulative electromagnetic emission reports and the likelihood of co-locations and upgrades) and the reasons for the selection of the site (including technical reports, projected growth and assessment of other sites considered (if any)); and

·          a complaints process providing owners and occupiers within 500 metres of a facility that will emit electromagnetic radiation with the ability to make a complaint to the ACMA in relation to any or all of the following:

                              (i)  the location of the facility;

                             (ii)  compliance with the Code of Practice;

                            (iii)  compliance with any relevant industry standard;

                            and providing for any work relating to the installation of the facility to be suspended until the complaint is resolved.


Item 13

13.   Item 13 provides that carriers must notify owners and occupiers of land within 500 metres of a facility or proposed facility about its intention to engage in an activity related to a facility in which electromagnetic radiation will be transmitted beyond the boundary of the land.


Item 14

14.    Item 14 provides that noticed under section 17 must be given at least 30 days before a carrier engages in an activity.


Items 15 to 19

15.   Item 15 provides that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) must, before issuing a facility installation permit, be satisfied that the precautionary principle as been taken into account in determining the site of the facility.


16.    Item 16 providing that in relation to community sensitive sites, ACMA must certify that no alternative site is technically feasible.


17.   Item 17 provides that no facility can be located with 200 metres of a community sensitive site.


18.   Item 18 provides that where ACMA is having regard to the economic importance of facilities it is not to include consideration of the revenue, profit, market share or any financial interest of the carrier.


19.   Item 19 provides a definition of the precautionary principle.


Item 20

20.   Item 20 provides that appeals can be made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on a decision of ACMA to grant, as well as to refuse to grant, a facilities installation permit.


Items 21 to 25

21.   Items 21 to 25 remove the exemption on the application of state and territory laws under the Schedule.


Items 26 to 29

22.   Item 26 provides for ACMA to inform members of the public the location of telecommunications towers including electromagnetic emissions exposure maps.



23.   Item 27 provides that in taking into account the legitimate interest of carriers in relation to informing the public under section 48, ACMA is not to have regard to matters relating to competition between carriers.


24.   Item 28 provides that in performing its functions to inform the public under section 48 ACMA is to have regard to the public interest in a proper understanding of electromagnetic radiation level and the application of the precautionary principle.


25.   Item 29 defines the precautionary principle.


Item 30

26.   Item 30 provides for carriers to prepare Local Telecommunication Network Plans detailing their proposed telecommunication network layout for the next 5 years. The plans are to be developed within 3 months after the end of each financial year. Copies of the plans are to be provides to ACMA and relevant local government bodies.