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Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Page: 2155

Senator FEENEY ( Victoria Parliamentary Secretary for Defence ) ( 17:56 ):  I thank Senator Ludlam. As I comprehend it, the issue here is state and territory public safety agencies seeking an allocation of digital dividend spectrum as a means of meeting their wireless broadband capability requirements. I think it is important for me to stress that the gov¬≠ernment understands the critical importance of supporting our public safety agencies with the best possible communications networks.

The options for the best way to achieve the new mobile broadband capability sought by public safety agencies are—as you have touched upon—being looked at by the Attorney-General's Department. Senator Conroy's department and the Australian Communications and Media Authority, ACMA, are of course assisting the Attorney-General's Department in that endeavour. In fact, a roundtable meeting was held only this morning, on 10 May 2011, and that meeting was attended by public safety agencies, industry and Commonwealth agencies. In fact—this is hot off the press—I can advise that that meeting was also attended by the Attorney-General and Minister Conroy. At that meeting, agreement was reached to establish a steering committee with repre¬≠sentatives from all interested parties to determine the best way to meet the spectrum needs of police and emergency services. This will involve ACMA working with police and emergency services to identify the appropriate spectrum to be reserved in the 800 band—which has been identified for public safety purposes in the harmonised band plans for the Asia-Pacific region. This is the appropriate and agreed process to address this issue, and I understand that there are no measures in this bill that in any way impede or otherwise affect that process.