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Wednesday, 16 December 1992
Page: 5168

Senator SCHACHT —My question is to the Minister for Transport and Communications. The Government decided yesterday that the licence for Australia's third public mobile telecommunications services carrier would be allocated to Arena-GSM. What benefits does the Government foresee in this decision for users of mobile telecommunications in Australia, the Australian telecommunications industry generally, and South Australia in particular?

Senator COLLINS —The decision yesterday to allocate the third PMTS licence to Arena is a significant one. This licence allocation marks another successful conclusion to what has been a raft of reforms in telecommunications from the Government. Arena is an innovative new-look telecommunications company with a great deal of drive and enthusiasm. Arena combines the impressive skills of Vodafone, which is a major British carrier, and the local expertise of an Australian company, AAP Information Services Pty Ltd.

  Arena is committed to covering 80 per cent of Australia's population by 1996 including all capital cities and major towns. Arena expects a 25 per cent drop in mobile call charges as a result of its competition. Arena will be a big promoter of the Australian telecommunications industry and this is a particularly pleasing part of its bid. Up to 5,000 new jobs will be created through the operation of the Arena network and associated business.

  Arena will establish its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Australia and will use Australian telecommunications expertise as it embarks on the operation of overseas mobile telecommunication networks in the region. Arena will spend about $400m on its network development and is committed to achieving 60 per cent local content on this capital expenditure. Training also has a high priority for this company. It is committed to spending $1.2m on training each year and it will establish a youth training scheme.

  Senator Schacht asked about benefits for South Australia. There is good news there. The company is committed to spend $25m on research and development. The company will establish an R&D centre in Adelaide. This group will comprise Arena, its suppliers and major tertiary institutions. Arena has guaranteed an expenditure of a minimum of $1m per annum for five years as seed funding for this activity in South Australia. The significant benefits to consumers and the Australian telecommunications industry resulting from yesterday's decision, in addition to the $140m that Arena will pay the Government for the licence, mean that there has been a particularly successful result to this licensing process.