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Wednesday, 11 November 2020
Page: 9550


Mr HOWARTH (PetrieAssistant Minister for Community Housing, Homelessness and Community Services) (19:27): Radio frequency spectrum is a vital resource which underpins many aspects of Australia's digital economy, such as the operation of fixed and mobile wireless communication networks. It is essential that spectrum is effectively managed so that it can be made available for innovations, such as supporting the rollout of 5G in Australia.

With markets and technology having changed markedly since the current legislative framework took effect, there's clear need to update that framework. Spectrum not being allocated quickly and easily imposes unnecessary costs on both industry and government. It slows the pace of innovation being driven by emerging technology and the enthusiasm of the sector to make better and more creative use of the spectrum. The amendments covered by the bills focus on priority reforms identified through the recommendations of the government's spectrum review and the outcomes of further consultation processes undertaken in 2017 and in recent months. The proposed changes provide a framework that allow the regulator and market to innovate and adapt in line with changing circumstances. Key recommendations include clarifying the object of the act, and the roles of the minister and the ACMA; streamlining the spectrum allocation and reallocation processes; improving flexibility and reducing regulatory barriers between licence types, better reflecting modern spectrum needs and supply chains; and introducing a modernisation compliance and enforcement regime. These bills are designed to add flexibility to the legislative framework, remove unnecessary prescription on legislative barriers and streamline processes. In the passage of this bill, we can ensure the spectrum management framework is suitable for our rapidly changing environment. I express my thanks to all honourable members for their contribution to this debate on these bills. The passage of these bills will modernise the management of spectrum and radio communications in Australia.

In addition, I extend my thanks to all stakeholders who contributed to the development of the bills during public consultation. The feedback received from stakeholder submissions assisted in refining the reforms so that they can deliver the intended benefits to the many diverse users of spectrum in Australia. Finally, I wish to thank the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for their inquiry into the reforms, which recommended that the bills be passed.

I table an addendum to the explanatory memorandum in response to the comments raised by the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills. In summary, these bills provide a clear reform pathway to modernise our spectrum management framework. The bills will modernise the management of spectrum in Australia and allow industry to better adapt to future innovations, including the rollout of future generation wireless technology. I commend the bills to the House.

Debate interrupted.