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Report savages aerial cabling laws

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Senator Lyn Allison Australian Democrats Democrat Spokesperson on Telecommunications

10th September, 1996 MEDIA RELEASE 96/561

Report savages aerial cabling laws: " " ;

The Senate Committee into the sale of Telstra has heavily criticised A ustralia’s lack of regulation of aerial cabling. The Democrats have vowed to amend the Bill to restore planning controls when it is debated in the Senate.

In a report showing the existing framework to be seriously flawed, the report called for:

• a REMOVAL OF THE CARRIERS^’ EXEMPTIONS from State, Territory and local laws; • carriers to be made to provide EARLIER ADVICE on rollout timetables; and • carriers to be made responsible for REMOVING OBSOLETE CABLING;

Democrat Spokesperson on Telecommunications, Senator Lyn Allison, said “We are worried that planning controls are being traded off for a higher sale price for Telstra. ■

“Over half the submissions to the inquiry were concerned with aerial cabling. This is a m ajor issue which is not being addressed. .

The majority report also noted that there was a danger that the existing environmental controls over Telstra would disappear if the government lost control.

The report stated that if the Commonwealth becomes a minority shareholder in Telstra, then “Telstra’s obligations under Commonwealth environmental protection legislation will cease. This would place Australia’s second-largest company beyond Commonwealth, State and Territory environment legislation." (pi48)

Senator Lyn Allison said this would be a disaster* “The carriers m ust not be given any more freedom. If anything, they must clean up their mess.

The report also called for research into the effects of electro-magnetic radiation (EMR) saying EMR “may prove to be a hidden problem.”

“These issues go to the heart Telstra sale. If Telstra is made to bury its cables, or if it is liable for the effects of EMR, the sale price of Telstra could drop dramatically,” Senator Allison concluded.

To arrange comment call Louise Currie on (06) 277 3076 or Senator Lyn Allison j direct on mobile on (019) 178 833. :