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Discussion paper released on putting cables underground.

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Minister for Communications, the Information Economy and the Arts

Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate


Discussion paper released on putting cables underground


The Minister for Communications, Sena tor Richard Alston, today released a discussion paper outlining options for putting existing overhead electricity and telecommunications cable underground.


The discussion paper was prepared by a working group, established by the Federal Government, and comprising representatives from industry, consumer groups and local, State, Territory and Federal Governments. The options do not represent Government policy.


‘The potential benefits of putting cable underground include savings in maintenance costs for electricity suppliers and telecommunications carriers, reduced exposure to storm damage and the improved visual appearance of streets,’ Senator Alston said.


‘It is recognised that the cost of doing this could be high, with initial findings of the working group indicating that it could cost about $6,000 per property to replace existing overhead electricity and telecommunications cabling.


‘This comes to about $24 billion for urban and suburban Australia as a whole, although costs could probably be reduced, for example, by the use of technical innovations canvassed in the discussion paper, as well as through potential economies from larger scale projects.’


The discussion paper assesses a range of options for funding the puffing of cable underground, including funding by local property holders, electricity suppliers, telecommunications carriers and Government.


The assessment includes consideration of equity and efficiency issues, including the level of alignment between those who benefit and those who pay, and the impact on the electricity and telecommunications industries and the overall economy.


The discussion paper also identifies a range of regulatory options, including an approach to help put cable underground in local areas, by providing mechanisms for decision-making at the local level, while ensuring an appropriate level of financial contributions from all relevant parties.


Comments on the discussion paper are invited by 7 August 1998, after which the working group will prepare a final report for consideration by Government. The discussion paper, together with more than ten specialist reports on technical, economic and regulatory aspects of the issue, which have been prepared by consultants, is available from the Department of Communications and the Arts website, , or telephone 02 6271 1529.


Media Contact:

Terry O’Connor, Minister’s Office 02 6277 7480 or 0419 636 879



16 June 1998