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Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Bill 1998

 

 

 

 

Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999

 

No. 50, 1999



 

 

 

 

Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999

 

No. 50, 1999

 

 

 

 

An Act about telecommunications, and for related purposes

   

   

   



Contents

Part 1—Preliminary                                                                                                                1

1............ Short title............................................................................................ 2

2............ Commencement.................................................................................. 2

3............ Objects and regulatory policy............................................................ 3

4............ Simplified outline................................................................................ 3

5............ Definitions.......................................................................................... 5

6............ Standard telephone service................................................................. 7

7............ Application of this Act...................................................................... 9

Part 2—Universal Service Regime                                                                              10

Division 1—Introduction                                                                                           10

8............ Simplified outline.............................................................................. 10

9............ Objects.............................................................................................. 11

10.......... Special meaning of Australia ............................................................. 12

11.......... Payphones........................................................................................ 12

12.......... Prescribed carriage services............................................................... 13

12A....... Digital data services.......................................................................... 13

13.......... Supply of standard telephone services............................................. 14

14.......... Supply of prescribed carriage services............................................. 15

14A....... Supply of digital data services.......................................................... 15

15.......... Service area....................................................................................... 17

16.......... Participating carriers......................................................................... 17

17.......... Eligible revenue................................................................................. 18

18.......... Approved auditor............................................................................. 18

Division 2—Universal service obligation                                                         19

19.......... Universal service obligation.............................................................. 19

Division 2A—Digital data service obligation                                                  21

19A....... Digital data service obligation........................................................... 21

19B....... General digital data service areas...................................................... 23

19C....... Special digital data service areas....................................................... 23

Division 3—Universal service providers                                                          25

20.......... Universal service providers.............................................................. 25

21.......... Effect of universal service provider declaration................................ 27

22.......... Selection system for national universal service provider.................. 28

23.......... Selection system for regional universal service providers................ 28

24.......... Selection systems—information-gathering powers.......................... 29

25.......... Multiple national universal service providers.................................. 30

26.......... Multiple regional universal service providers................................... 30

Division 3A—Digital data service providers                                                  32

26A....... Digital data service providers........................................................... 32

26B....... Effect of digital data service provider declaration............................. 34

26C....... Selection system for general digital data service providers............... 34

26D....... Selection system for special digital data service providers............... 35

26E........ Selection systems—information-gathering powers.......................... 36

Division 4—Universal service plans                                                                   38

27.......... Universal service provider must submit universal service plan........ 38

28.......... Universal service plans..................................................................... 38

29.......... Replacement of approved universal service plan............................. 38

30.......... Approval of draft universal service plan by Minister...................... 38

31.......... Public comment—draft plan............................................................. 39

32.......... Minister to have regard to certain matters........................................ 39

33.......... Minister may formulate requirements for draft plans...................... 40

34.......... Notification of decision.................................................................... 40

35.......... Variation of approved universal service plan................................... 41

36.......... Public comment—variation of plan.................................................. 41

37.......... Minister may direct the ACA to give reports and/or advice............ 42

38.......... Minister may direct variation or replacement of plan...................... 42

39.......... Compliance with approved universal service plan........................... 43

40.......... Register of universal service plans.................................................... 43

Division 4A—Digital data service plans                                                            44

40A....... Digital data service provider must submit digital data service plan.. 44

40B....... Digital data service plans.................................................................. 44

40C....... Replacement of approved digital data service plan.......................... 44

40D....... Approval of draft digital data service plan by Minister................... 45

40E........ Public comment—draft plan............................................................. 45

40F........ Minister to have regard to certain matters........................................ 46

40G....... Minister may formulate requirements for draft plans...................... 47

40H....... Notification of decision.................................................................... 47

40J........ Variation of approved digital data service plan................................ 47

40K....... Public comment—variation of plan.................................................. 48

40L........ Minister may direct the ACA to give reports and/or advice............ 49

40M...... Minister may direct variation or replacement of plan...................... 49

40N....... Compliance with approved digital data service plan........................ 49

40P........ Register of digital data service plans................................................. 50

Division 5—Regulation of universal service charges                                51

41.......... Universal service charges.................................................................. 51

42.......... Declaration subjecting universal service charges to price control arrangements      51

43.......... Price control determinations............................................................. 51

44.......... Content of price control determinations........................................... 52

45.......... Price control determinations subject to determinations under Part 9 53

46.......... Compliance with price control determinations................................. 53

Division 5A—Regulation of digital data service charges                         54

46A....... Digital data service charges............................................................... 54

46B....... Declaration subjecting digital data service charges to price control arrangements   54

46C....... Price control determinations............................................................. 54

46D....... Content of price control determinations........................................... 55

46E........ Price control determinations subject to determinations under Part 9 56

46F........ Compliance with price control determinations................................. 56

Division 6—Assessment, collection, recovery and distribution of universal service levy           57

Subdivision A—Introduction                                                                                    57

47.......... Simplified outline.............................................................................. 57

48.......... Financial year.................................................................................... 58

Subdivision B—Net cost areas                                                                                 58

49.......... Universal service provider must propose service areas for declaration as net cost areas—ordinary declaration    58

50.......... Net cost areas—ordinary declarations.............................................. 59

51.......... Universal service provider may propose service areas for declaration as net cost areas—special declaration        59

52.......... Net cost areas—special declarations................................................ 60

53.......... Minister may give directions about declaring net cost areas............ 61

Subdivision C—Assessment of liability for levy and of entitlement to levy distributions   61

54.......... Claims for levy credit....................................................................... 61

55.......... No levy payable unless at least one claim for a levy credit is made. 63

56.......... ACA to give copies of claims to other participating carriers........... 63

57.......... Net universal service cost of a universal service provider for a financial year         63

58.......... Reduction of excessive costs etc....................................................... 67

59.......... Shortfalls in revenue earned.............................................................. 68

60.......... ACA determinations about working out a universal service provider’s net universal service cost         68

61.......... Application of determinations under section 60.............................. 69

61A....... Digital data cost of a digital data service provider for a financial year 70

61B....... Reduction of excessive costs............................................................ 73

62.......... Participating carriers must lodge returns of eligible revenue............. 73

63.......... ACA may inquire into the correctness of a claim or return.............. 74

64.......... ACA to assess liabilities and entitlement......................................... 75

65.......... Explanation to the Minister if assessment not made within 270 days 76

66.......... Amendment of assessments............................................................. 77

67.......... Levy debit of a participating carrier for a financial year................... 77

68.......... Levy debit balance of a participating carrier for a financial year...... 78

69.......... Levy credit balance for a financial year............................................ 79

70.......... Publication of assessment................................................................. 79

Subdivision D—Disclosure by the ACA of information about decisions relating to net cost areas and assessments 79

71.......... Public may request information........................................................ 79

72.......... Request for information that is unavailable under section 71........... 80

73.......... How the ACA is to comply with a request..................................... 82

Subdivision E—Collection and recovery of levy                                                    83

74.......... When levy payable........................................................................... 83

75.......... Levy a debt due to the Commonwealth............................................ 83

76.......... Validity of assessment...................................................................... 83

77.......... Evidence of assessment.................................................................... 83

78.......... Onus of establishing incorrectness of assessment............................ 83

79.......... Refund of overpayment of levy....................................................... 84

80.......... Cancellation of certain exemptions from levy.................................. 84

81.......... Commonwealth not liable to levy..................................................... 84

Subdivision F—Distribution of levy                                                                        84

82.......... Universal Service Reserve................................................................. 84

83.......... Payments into Universal Service Reserve........................................ 85

84.......... Purposes of Universal Service Reserve............................................ 85

85.......... Levy distribution.............................................................................. 86

86.......... Levy not to be distributed until paid................................................ 86

87.......... Recovery of overpayments.............................................................. 86

Subdivision G—Advance on account of distribution of levy                                87

88.......... Advance on account of distribution of levy..................................... 87

89.......... Repayment of excess advances......................................................... 87

Subdivision H—Levy guarantee                                                                               88

90.......... Levy guarantee.................................................................................. 88

91.......... Exemptions from levy guarantee...................................................... 88

92.......... Compliance with levy guarantee obligations.................................... 89

Part 3—The National Relay Service                                                                          90

Division 1—Introduction                                                                                           90

93.......... Simplified outline.............................................................................. 90

94.......... Definitions........................................................................................ 90

Division 2—The National Relay Service                                                           92

95.......... The National Relay Service (the NRS)............................................. 92

96.......... Publication of costs of providing the NRS....................................... 92

97.......... ACA reports and advice about NRS service plans........................... 93

Division 3—The NRS levy                                                                                        94

98.......... Levy quarters.................................................................................... 94

99.......... Persons liable to pay levy (taxpayers)............................................. 94

100........ Amount of levy................................................................................ 94

101........ Payment of levy............................................................................... 95

Division 4—The NRS Reserve                                                                              96

102........ The NRS Reserve............................................................................. 96

Part 4—Continued access to untimed local calls                                                  97

103........ Simplified outline.............................................................................. 97

104........ Requirement to provide an untimed local call option....................... 97

105........ Untimed local call option.................................................................. 97

106........ Eligible local calls.............................................................................. 98

107........ Benefits for customers outside standard zones.............................. 101

108........ Standard zones................................................................................ 101

109........ Applicable zones............................................................................ 102

110........ Eligible customer............................................................................. 104

111........ Points.............................................................................................. 104

112........ Application of this Part.................................................................. 104

Part 5—Customer service guarantee                                                                       105

113........ Simplified outline............................................................................ 105

114........ Interpretation.................................................................................. 105

115........ Performance standards.................................................................... 106

116........ Damages for breach of performance standards............................... 107

117........ Scale of damages for breach of performance standards................... 108

117A..... Time for payment of damages for breach of performance standards 109

118........ Remedial directions—compliance with performance standards..... 111

118A..... Right of contribution...................................................................... 112

119........ Evidentiary certificate issued by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman 113

120........ Waiver of customer service guarantee............................................. 114

121........ Savings of other laws and remedies................................................ 115

122........ Breach of performance standard is not an offence.......................... 115

123........ Clause 1 of Schedule 2 to the Telecommunications Act 1997 does not apply to a breach of a performance standard........................................................................................................ 115

124........ Minister may direct the ACA about the use of its powers under this Part            115

125........ Review of performance standards following Ministerial direction. 116

Part 6—The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman                              117

126........ Simplified outline............................................................................ 117

127........ Eligible carriage service providers................................................... 117

128........ Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman scheme...................... 118

129........ Exemptions from requirement to join scheme................................ 119

130........ Direction to join scheme................................................................. 119

131........ Determination that a class of carriage service providers must join scheme             120

132........ Members of scheme must comply with scheme............................ 121

133........ Register of members of scheme...................................................... 121

Part 7—Protection for residential customers against failure by carriage service providers to provide standard carriage services                                                                          122

134........ Simplified outline............................................................................ 122

135........ Scope of Part.................................................................................. 122

136........ Standard residential customer......................................................... 123

137........ Protected payments........................................................................ 124

138........ Compliance with protection schemes for protected payments...... 125

139........ Protection schemes for protected payments—alternative supply of standard carriage services            125

140........ Protection schemes for protected payments—third party guarantee 126

141........ Protection schemes for protected payments—insurance cover..... 126

142........ Protection schemes for protected payments—holding of payments in trust accounts           127

143........ Waiver of protection by customers................................................ 128

144........ Incidental rules................................................................................ 128

145........ Enforcement of protection schemes............................................... 129

Part 8—Provision of emergency call services                                                     131

146........ Simplified outline............................................................................ 131

147........ Provision of emergency call services.............................................. 131

148........ Compliance with determination...................................................... 135

149........ Access to emergency call services.................................................. 136

150........ Ministerial pricing determinations.................................................. 137

151........ Access to be provided.................................................................... 138

Part 9—Price control arrangements for Telstra                                                 139

152........ Simplified outline............................................................................ 139

153........ Definitions...................................................................................... 139

154........ Minister may determine price control arrangements...................... 140

155........ Effect of price control arrangements............................................... 140

156........ Alteration of charges subject to price control arrangements........... 140

157........ Carrier charges subject to notification and disallowance................ 142

158........ Alteration of charges subject to notification and disallowance....... 142

Part 9A—Telephone sex services                                                                              143

158A..... Simplified outline............................................................................ 143

158B..... Unacceptable conduct in relation to a telephone sex service.......... 144

158C..... Supply of goods or services not to be tied to the supply of telephone sex services               147

158D..... Regulations may prohibit or regulate certain telephone sex services 147

158E...... Aiding, abetting etc......................................................................... 148

158F...... Evidentiary certificate—telephone sex service............................... 149

158G..... Onus of proof—agreement and limiting access.............................. 149

158H..... Approved prefix............................................................................. 149

158J...... Telephone sex service..................................................................... 150

158K..... Telephone sex service provider...................................................... 150

158L...... Voice call......................................................................................... 150

158M.... Savings of other laws...................................................................... 151

158N..... Transitional..................................................................................... 151

Part 10—Miscellaneous                                                                                                   152

159........ Direction to Telstra to comply with this Act................................ 152

160........ Regulations..................................................................................... 152

 



Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999

No. 50, 1999

 

 

 

An Act about telecommunications, and for related purposes

[ Assented to 5 July 1999 ]

The Parliament of Australia enacts:



 

[ Minister’s second reading speech made in—

House of Representatives on 12 November 1998

Senate on 30 November 1998 ]

(175/98)