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Wednesday, 28 February 2018
Page: 2358

Mr FLETCHER (BradfieldMinister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities) (10:30): I'd like to thank the members who have contributed to the debate on the Communications Legislation Amendment (Deregulation and Other Measures) Bill 2017. The bill will amend a range of telecommunications and broadcasting legislation to reduce the regulatory burden on the broadcasting and telecommunications industries. The bill will amend the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to remove duplicative requirements for licensees, publishers and controllers to notify the Australian Communications and Media Authority of certain changes in control. It will deliver a single classification scheme for all television programs by removing the requirement for certain television broadcasters to apply a separate classification scheme for films when developing industry codes of practice.

In the area of telecommunications, the bill will amend the Telecommunications Act 1997 to enable a transition to an industry based scheme for the management of telephone-numbering resources, subject to strict policy safeguards. The amendments have the potential to enable greater efficiency and innovation if industry develops a suitable scheme.

The bill will also remove unnecessary arrangements for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the ACCC, to issue tariff filing directions to certain carriers and carriage service providers under part XIBof the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. The information captured by these provisions is readily available to the ACCC through other avenues, including through public sources.

It will reform the statutory collection powers of ACMA under the Telecommunications Act 1997 and of the ACCC under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 to ensure that the information collected from industry is relevant and serves a useful public policy purpose. The bill will also simplify the annual report publication requirements for ACMA and the ACCC by requiring the reports to be published online.

The bill will also abolish the requirement for ACMA to consult with an advisory committee specially established under the submarine cable protection regime before declaring, varying or revoking a submarine cable protection zone, reducing administrative costs and on the basis that ACMA must consult publicly anyway on such proposals.

The bill will amend the Telecommunications Act 1997 to repeal the power of NBN Co to issue a statement that it is not installing fibre in a new real estate development, as it is not appropriate for NBN Co, as an industry player, to exercise a quasi-regulatory power. Changes will also be made to the National Broadband Network Companies Act 2011 to allow NBN Co to dispose of surplus goods without altering the fundamental line of business restrictions on NBN Co.

The bill, as now amended to repeal schedule 2, will preserve the status quo for ACMA's broadcasting, content and datacasting complaints-handling and investigation powers under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. Amendments to be made to schedule 3 of the bill will also align it with the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Misuse of Market Power) Act as it was enacted in August last year.

Amendments to be made to schedule 4 of the bill will provide clarity to commercial broadcasters that the pro rata refund of tax imposed on the issue of a transmitter licence only applies to the amount paid in the financial year ending on 30 June 2017.

An amendment will also insert schedule 9 into the bill to ensure that a transitional support payment for the switchover to the commercial broadcasting spectrum tax goes to the intended party. The schedule ensures that Network Investments Pty Ltd and not Northern Rivers Television Pty Ltd will receive the transitional support payment under the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Broadcasting Reform) Act 2017. This recognises that Network Investments Pty Ltd held the relevant licence at the time of the passage of the broadcasting reform act.

Finally, the bill will make other amendments to remove redundant and unnecessary legislation, including repealing over 50 spent acts in the Communications portfolio. The bill is a further step in this government's ongoing commitment to boosting productivity by reducing onerous regulation while maintaining consumer and competition safeguards. I call on members to support the bill.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.