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Thursday, 27 August 2020
Page: 5747


Mr FLETCHER (BradfieldMinister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts) (10:17): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

As part of the government's reform of spectrum management, today I am also introducing this bill, the Radiocommunications (Receiver Licence Tax) Amendment Bill 2020.

This bill is a companion bill to the Radiocommunications Legislation Amendment (Reform and Modernisation) Bill 2020. That bill extends the maximum licence terms for apparatus licences (including receiver licences) and spectrum licences to 20 years.

As a consequence of those amendments, this bill seeks to align some of the arrangements for the payments licensees make for the value of the spectrum that they use under their licences. The arrangements for spectrum licences include paying a spectrum access charge at a time specified by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. By comparison, the Radiocommunications (Receiver Licence Tax) Act 1983 provides the licensees of a receiver licence of more than 12 months duration with a choice in when tax is imposed—either a full amount on their licence being issued or annual instalments.

Recognising that long-term, high-value receiver licences would become more available under the government's reforms, the amendments in this bill will enable ACMA to determine whether the holder of specified classes of receiver licences pay tax upfront or in annual instalments. This will include ACMA being able to specify that all licences for a particular use or of a particular duration need to pay upfront, consistent with general practice for spectrum licences, to avoid causing a distortion in the demand for different licence types.

These amendments will only apply to licences issued after commencement, and will not make changes to how the amount of tax that licensees pay for their licence will be calculated.

The amendments in this bill will support the reforms of spectrum management proposed by the Radiocommunications Legislation Amendment (Reform and Modernisation) Bill 2020, which are designed to provide a more flexible regulatory framework to support the adoption of new technologies.

Debate adjourned.