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Thursday, 22 September 1983
Page: 1140

Mr DUFFY (Minister for Communications)(10.16) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

I am pleased to be able to introduce this Bill into Parliament. The primary purpose of the Bill is to provide an up to date legal framework for management of the radio frequency spectrum, so that the development of radiocommunication services can proceed in an orderly fashion. I believe that this legislation will facilitate significant improvements in the range and quality of radiocommunication services provided to the community. In the course of developing this Bill, the views of the community, including those of industry, professional engineering institutions and user groups, have been sought and taken into account.

A draft radiocommunications Bill was published in February for public comment, although it had not yet been introduced into Parliament by the previous Government. The present Bill is based on the published draft and takes into account comments received in recent months. The radio frequency spectrum, for the purposes of this Bill, is the range of wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation on which effective communications over significant distances are possible. It is a finite natural resource of vital importance to all radiocommunication and radionavigation services. Without it modern transport, business, entertainment and social activities would be impossible. For example, there would be no television, the operation of jet aircraft would be impracticable, and people in the outback would have no immediate contact with the outside world.

The existing legislation governing the use of the spectrum is the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905. The extraordinary growth of communications technology over the last decade has highlighted the shortcomings of that Act, which has now become outdated and inadequate. A central deficiency of the Act is that it does not adequately provide for the prevention of interference to radiocommunication services. While under the Act the Minister is given certain powers to control the transmission and reception of messages by means of radio, the Act does not deal at all with radio emissions which are not messages. This has been a major weakness because such emissions can cause considerable radio interference to the detriment of legitimate users of the spectrum.

Interference occurs both between radiocommunication services and between radio and non-radio devices such as industrial machinery and home entertainment equipment. Although the Wireless Telegraphy Act prohibits the unlicensed establishment, erection, maintenance and use of radio equipment for the purpose of transmitting or receiving messages, it contains no power to restrict the supply or possession of unlicensable equipment. This not only makes it difficult to protect legitimate uses of the spectrum but it also places an unfair burden on persons purchasing unlicensable equipment in good faith. Currently the only means of limiting the availability of unlicensable equipment is to prevent its import under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations.

There are other deficencies in the Wireless Telegraphy Act, including the lack of adequate provisions relating to spectrum planning, the review of decisions, and conciliation between parties to interference disputes. The enforcement provisions are out-dated. In addition, the Act does not bind the Crown, despite the fact that Commonwealth organisations are major spectrum users. Its extraterritorial operation is very limited, even though Australian aircraft and ships are important users of the spectrum. In the future Australian satellites and space vehicles will also use large amounts of spectrum. The proposed radiocommunications legislation is designed to overcome these deficiencies.

Before describing the features of the Bill, I emphasise that it in no way deals with the licensing of normal domestic radio receivers or television sets or of broadcasting and television transmitting stations. In fact, the proposed legislation specifically excludes these domestic receivers from any licensing requirement.

Turning now to the content of the Bill, clause 3, the definitions clause, contains a number of defintions of principal importance. I refer to the definitions of 'radiocommunication', 'radiocommunications transmitter', 'radio transmission' and 'transmitter'. Taken together, the combined impact of these definitions allows subsequent provisions of the Bill to control radio emissions from all devices impacting on the spectrum up to three terahertz, the generally acknowledged upper limit for radiocommunications, and to control the emissions of laser type devices from above three terahertz, in the infra red part of the spectrum, to 1,000 terahertz, the end of the visible light portion of the spectrum. The difference in the control over devices impacting on two different parts of the spectrum is to ensure that non-laser type devices operating in the infra red and visible light portions of the spectrum, such as all conventional light sources and infra heat lamps, are excluded from the purview of this Bill. Laser type emitters are covered by this Bill since communications over significant distances are already being accomplished with these devices.

Under clause 9 of the Bill, the Minister for Communications is empowered to make standards for transmitters, receivers and radiosensitive equipment. The standards may cover the design or performance of equipment, and the wording of statements to be impressed on or annexed to it. As the standards will have considerable impact on the design of transmitters, receivers, and other equipment that is capable of being affected by radio transmissions, the clause provides that a proposed standard is to be published with an invitation to interested persons to comment on it. The Minister, by clause 9 (3), is required to give due consideration to representations received before proceeding to make the standard. Clause 9 (9) of the Bill allows for this procedure to by bypassed where the Minister is satisfied that the making of the standard is a matter of urgency. This provision would, of course, be used rarely, if at all. However, the Government considers it necessary to deal with situations where a quick reaction is essential to control the rapid proliferation of equipment that would severely affect radiocommunications services.

Clause 9 contains some of the most significant powers granted under the Bill. It is the Government's intention to develop standards not only for radiocommunications transmitters and receivers but also for things as diverse as radio frequency heaters and certain classes of audio equipment. In the former case, operation of radio frequency heaters can severely disrupt communications. Indeed, these devices have at times significantly disrupted communications with aircraft. In regard to audio equipment, much time and expense is incurred by officers of my Department in trying to solve interference to hi-fi sets and the like by transmitters which are usually properly licensed. The transmitters are not defective in most cases of this nature. Rather the fault lies with the hi-fi equipment that, generally, for the want of a few cents worth of components is adversely affected by strong signals emitted from nearby radiocommunications transmitters.

As more and more equipment is produced that conforms to sensible standards, more services will be able to co-exist successfully in an increasingly crowded spectrum. It is necessary to provide for some circumstances where the use of sub -standard equipment may be necessary, for example in the development stages of new equipment. Clause 11 provides for this by the issue of test permits. The same provision could be used to provide for individuals and organisations such as museums, who have a legitimate requirement for sub-standard equipment.

Clause 11 of the Bill provides for a maximum fine of $10,000 or five years imprisonment for persons who, without reasonable excuse, cause sub-standard transmitters to transmit, who supply sub-standard transmitters or receivers, or who have in their possession a sub-standard transmitter. The maximum fine that can be imposed on corporations can be up to $50,000 because of the operation of clause 83 of the Bill. Maximum penalties of this severity are justified, considering that sub-standard radio equipment can interfere with vital safety of life services, such as aircraft navigation and landing aids, ambulance services and the like. I would emphasise that transmitter standards may be made for any device emitting radiation covered by the definition of radio transmission. At present, significant amounts of interference are caused by non-communication devices such as industrial heaters, faulty powerlines, electric motors and other electrical devices. The Wireless Telegraphy Act does not provide for control of emissions from these devices, and my Department has therefore had to rely on the goodwill of their owners in investigating and attempting to deal with interference caused by them. The desired co-operation has not always been provided.

Concern has been expressed that this clause could affect persons such as radio amateurs, electronics enthusiasts and the like who may have sub-standard equipment in their possession for use as spare parts or for conversion to other uses. I would point out that paragraph 11 (2) (c) makes it a reasonable excuse for the person to have a sub-standard transmitter in his possession for purposes that do not include the purpose of supply or the purpose of causing the transmitter to make a radio transmission. Consequently I think this paragraph will give sufficient protection to persons who retain sub-standard equipment for legitimate purposes. This Bill will for the first time provide the power to deal with the technical causes of interference. To identify equipment that meets a particular standard, clause 12 of the Bill provides for the Minister to issue compliance statement certificates to persons authorising them to affix to equipment a statement verifying that the equipment complies with a specified standard.

A significant feature of the Bill is the provision for radio frequency planning in Part IV. The purpose of this Part is to facilitate future planning of the radio frequency spectrum and to guide the development of services using it. Indeed, when issuing a licence the Minister is required to have regard to whether the operation of a transmitter is in accordance with the appropriate frequency plan. The overall spectrum plan is to be built up from a number of specialised frequency band plans that indicate in some detail the purpose or purposes for which various portions of each band may be used. In general, the plan will follow the outline of the present published planning document, the Australian Table of Frequency Allocations. Clause 20 allows for public comment on spectrum and frequency band plans while clause 20 (5) provides for parliamentary disallowance of any plan. These provisions, the Government believes, will enable the public to have a significant influence on the development of spectrum plans. In formulating any plan, the Government has to take its international commitments, particularly those under the International Telecommunication Convention, into account. Naturally, the Government will ensure that all our international commitments in this regard are upheld. I should also state that it is the Government's intention that spectrum and appropriate frequency band plans be made as expeditiously as possible once the Bill becomes law.

Provision is made in the Bill in Part V for the issue of frequency reservation certificates. The purpose of these certificates is to enable persons to be able to reserve a frequency or frequencies for future use. Typically, the certificates would be issued to allow the developer of a communications system to be assured that spectrum space will be available to cater for future expansion. In the administration of the use of these certificates, my Department will take precautions to ensure that claims for reserved spectrum are legitimate so that spectrum is not being reserved unnecessarily.

Clauses 22, 23 and 24 are the specific licensing provisions for radiocommunications transmitters. A person who operates an unauthorised transmitter, or possesses such a transmitter for the purpose of operating it without reasonable excuse, will be liable to a maximum fine of $2,000. The Government considers it necessary to include in sub-clause 23 (1) an offence of possession of an unlicensed radiocommunications transmitter for the purpose of operation. Concern has been expressed to the Government that this provision is unnecessarily restrictive. The Government considers that the provision should remain because without such a provision my Department would be next to powerless in prosecuting persons establishing and using inlicensed stations where those persons have taken precautions to avoid being caught in the act of transmitting. Clause 24 provides the Minister with the power to grant a transmitter licence, and the conditions to which such a licence is subject are outlined in clause 25. Contravention of specified conditions is subject to a maximum fine of $1,000.

I would like to direct honourable members' attention to paragraph 25 (1) (g). The purpose of this provision is to permit the listed persons to direct the licensee of a radiocommunications transmitter to assist in an emergency situation. This assistance could take the form of either passing messages or possibly ceasing operation if interference is caused to emergency services. Provision is made for guidelines to be made to guide listed persons in exercising their powers under 25 (1) (g). The Government intends to produce those guidelines after consultation with appropriate organisations and to distribute them to the classes of persons listed as well as to the larger organisations operating radiocommunications equipment such as Telecom Australia, television stations and the like. This will enable both the listed persons and organisations likely to be affected by any directions made, to be aware in advance of the conditions under which valid directions can be given. Similarly, it is the Government's intention to make guidelines under the provisions of sub- clause 25 (4) in relation to the exercise of its powers regarding interference to and between radiocommunications services. All guidelines made under these provisions are subject to disallowance by Parliament.

The licensing provisions are in line with the existing provisions of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905 but also clarify and allow for streamlining of licensing procedures. I shall deal with the question of fees for licences and permits in my speech on the associated Bills. A knowledge of radiocommunications theory is in some cases necessary before a person can reasonably be allowed to operate transmitters either because the equipment is capable of causing interference if used improperly, or because a high standard of proficiency is required for safety reasons. An example is the specialised radio operator on board large ships. In order to maintain high standards of operation and effective use of these bands, it is necessary for these operators to have technical qualifications. To this end, clause 31 of the Bill provides for an examination process to determine eligibility for the specified categories of licence and for the issue of certificates of proficiency to those who qualify. Clause 34 establishes a procedure for deeming persons to have the requisite proficiency, thus enabling the Minister to declare persons with acceptable overseas or other qualifications to be qualified operators for the purposes of clause 31.

Clause 34 will also be used to deem as qualified persons, licensees of citizen band stations, taxiphones and like services where no special qualifications are required in order to operate their transceivers. This procedure is necessary because of the requirements of paragraph 24 (1) (e) of the Bill which makes it a condition of a licence that the licensee be a qualified operator in relation to the licence. Part VII of the Bill addresses the question of licensing for certain classes of receivers. I would again like to make it quite clear that licences will not be required for receivers for radio or television programs intended for reception by the general public.

It should be pointed out, however, that radio receivers that incorporate broadcast band reception with reception of non-broadcast frequencies could be subject to licensing if appropriate regulations were made. Technically, it is necessary to provide for the licensing of receivers that can tune broadcast bands as well as other bands for the simple reason that the requirement for licensing some classes of radiocommunication receivers could be circumvented by the inclusion of a broadcast reception facility in equipment designed primarily for other purposes. However, the Government has no intention of requiring the licensing of the typical multiband portable receivers, continuous tuning television receivers, shortwave receivers, scanning receivers or similar consumer devices commonly available to the public.

The Government's policy on the licensing of receivers is that regulations requiring the licensing of particular classes of receivers will be made only where there is a clear need to protect them from interference, where there is significant radio frequency co-ordination effort required to be expended by my Department, or where special circumstances exist that require the licensing of certain classes of receivers to prevent the development of undesirable practices . Major receive-only earth stations, for example, would require licences. The overall effect of this Part, however, is deregulatory. Under sub-section 6 (1) of the Wireless Telegraphy Act it was necessary to licence both radiocommunications receivers and transmitters, while under the provisions of this Bill only a small proportion of radiocommunications receivers in specific classes will be prescribed for licensing purposes. The Government's policy will be to prescribe as few classes of receivers as possible consistent with our objective of efficient spectrum management.

Part VIII of the Bill provides that the Governor-General may proclaim a 'period of emergency' in specified circumstances which could involve threats to the security or defence of Australia, serious threats to the environment or risk of injury to persons or property. The 'period of emergency' may be specified up to a maximum of three months and during this time controls over transmitters likely to interfere with radiocommunications are provided by orders under clause 41. In this way, vital communications can be protected from possible interference during a state of emergency. Contravention of an order, without reasonable excuse, bears a maximum penalty of $5,000 to take account of the serious nature of such an offence. Clause 42 provides for the Minister to make guidelines to be applied by him with respect to his powers under Clause 41. The Government intends to make these guidelines as promptly as possible and will consult interested bodies before making these guidelines. The guidelines made will not unnecessarily impede the operation of stations during an emergency.

A feature of the Bill which will be of particular interest to the community at large is the provision in Part IX for the settlement of interference disputes. Disputes concerning interference occur between individual members of the public and between the large organisations, often with sizable investments in electrical or communications equipment. Some of these disputes can be unreasonably protracted to the detriment of both parties. Major disputes have occurred, for example, between electricity commissions and organisations relying on telecommunications over the placement of power lines in relation to radio receiving sites involved in safety of life communications. Numerous disputes have also arisen as a result of interference to home entertainment equipment from a nearby radiocommunications service. At present the settlement of such disputes can be a vexatious and acrimonious procedure. Often one of the parties refuses to take simple, low cost measures that would resolve the situation. Resolving such an impasse is a difficult task for my Department. Even simple disputes can involve the expenditure of thousands of dollars on administrative effort. To ameliorate the effect of intractable disputes the Bill proposes a conciliation process.

Clause 46 of the Bill empowers the Minister to refer interference disputes to a conciliator, if necessary. The conciliator, appointed by the Minister, may hold an inquiry and report on the matter. In order to effect a settlement of the dispute, the conciliation may direct a compulsory conference between the parties concerned and recommend a solution to them. If the dispute is still unsettled, the likely cause for this is to be outlined in the report from the conciliator to the Minister. It is anticipated that this process will achieve practical results without the delay or expense of formal legal procedures. The existence of such a system may also relieve channels presently used for grievances, such as complaints to the Ombudsman.

Noting the growing complexity and social impact of radiocommunications activity on the everyday life of the community, the Government has decided that provision should be made for inquiries to consider major radiocommunications issues that may be expected to arise in the future. Part X of the Bill deals with this matter. For instance, it is possible that due to the shortage of spectrum space all persons who wish to engage in providing major new radiocommunications services may not be able to do so. Consequently, licences to provide these new services may need to be rationed and a public inquiry system would be one means of determining which applicants would be recommended to the Minister for the award of a licence. Inquiries could also be held into many other issues involving radiocommunications such as the structure of frequency band plans, the best means of utilising new radiocommunications technology and the like. I should like to emphasise that the inquiry system will not in its self produce policy decisions. The power of the Commissioner heading the inquiry is simply to make recommendations to the Minister. It will then be for the Minister of the day to decide whether or not to implement these recommendations.

Moving to part XI of the Bill, honourable members will note the severe penalty provisions in clauses 65 (2) and 65 (10). These penalties are to deal with threats to the safety of marine and aeronautical services, to provide protection to Australian radio and television broadcasting services from the transmission of pirate broadcast programs from outside the territorial sea, and to provide protection against substantial interference to internal and external Australian radiocommunications caused by sources outside the territorial sea. It is possible to use radiocommunications transmitters to cause an explosion. In some instances a transmitter operated near a quarry can emit sufficient electromagnetic energy to instigate a detonation. I am sure I do not need to outline the type of disaster that could ensue. The maximum penalty in such instances is a fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for up to five years. Delegation of the powers of the Minister under this Bill is authorised in clause 66 (1). However, the making of standards for radiocommunication equipment and the making of orders during a period of emergency are powers that can only be performed by the Minister and may not be delegated to an authorised person acting on his behalf.

The Bill provides for the appointment and powers of inspectors. Given the immediate and substantial impact that powers of this nature can have on the civil liberties of citizens this Government sought the views of the Council of Civil Liberties of New South Wales and these were taken into account in the public consultation process--

Mr McVeigh —What about Queensland? You did not go to Queensland.

Mr DUFFY —I thought it had been abolished in Queensland by the Government.

Mr McVeigh —You should see the polls today. They are winning by 52 per cent.

Mr DUFFY —I hope that is something you take consolation from, because it will not last for long. The Council has made a number of suggestions for improvement of the Bill and these have all been incorporated in this Bill. Under clause 3 (5 ), officers of the Australian Federal Police and Territory police are deemed to be inspectors for the purposes of this Bill. Clause 69 outlines an inspector's power of arrest where any person is believed to be committing, or has committed, an offence against the Act. Although normally a search warrant would be issued by a magistrate under clause 70 to authorise an inspector to enter, search and seize property, a provision is made at clause 72 authorising inspectors to search a person without warrant or enter property when a emergency necessitates this course of action. An order of a court or warrant will not be required in an emergency search, provided the circumstances are sufficiently serious or urgent to justify immediate action. In certain circumstances it may prove necessary to obtain a search warrant as a matter of urgency but where an emergency search made under the provisions of clause 72 is not appropriate. Such situations could arise where suspect equipment is installed in a vehicle or aircraft and quick action is required to ascertain whether an offence has been committed. Clause 81 provides a mechanism for search warrants to be granted over the telephone by a magistrate where such urgent circumstances exist. The validity of a warrant granted under the provision is subject to conformity with strict conditions laid down in this clause. In particular I would point out that the magistrate must be satisfied that reasonable grounds exist for issuing the warrant. Where a court finds that charges are found proven in relation to an offence against this Act, the court may order forfeiture to the Commonwealth of any equipment used in the commission of that offence. (Extension of time granted)

One most important feature of the Bill is that it will enable the licensing of domestic satellites. Obviously the licensing of satellites under this Bill will cover matters dealing with the radio frequency management characteristics of satellites and the services accessing them. It will not control the broadcasting aspects of Australian satellites, which will be handled under other legislation. The Wireless Telegraphy Act has only limited extra-territorial effect, so that under that legislation licensing of satellites is not possible.

I should point out one feature of the Bill that will impact directly on domestic television and broadcast receivers. Clause 9 provides that standards may be made for specified receivers or for receivers included in a specified class of receivers. This will enable the development of standards for domestic receivers. At present large numbers of low standard receivers are widely available and marketed. The low engineering standards to which these receivers are built inhibits the efficient use of the spectrum. For example, certain combinations of television channels cannot be used at any one location because of the inability of many current receivers to distinguish between transmissions on these channels. The net result of this is that fewer television channels are available for use in any one area. A similar situation also prevails where FM broadcast receivers are incapable of distinguishing between two stations on adjacent frequencies. Much domestic equipment is also overly susceptible to transmissions made by nearby radiocommunications transmitters. In the majority of cases the transmitters are being legally operated, and the problem could be remedied by employing better circuitry in the domestic equipment. Consequently, when standards are made for domestic equipment the Government will give due consideration to incorporation of appropriate provisions in the standards to minimise this problem. It will be a matter of judgment as to what receivers need to be subject to standards. For instance, the Government would be unlikely to make standards for $3.99 pocket radios but could contemplate standards being made for more substantial and sophisticated sets where purchasers could expect that reception would not be compromised by the sets' inability to cope with the operation of nearby transmitters.

Clause 5 of the Bill provides that it will apply to certain non-communications transmitters and receivers as well as to radiocommunications equipment. Basically these transmitters and receivers are used for purposes covered by paragraphs 51 (vii), (viii) and (xv) of the Constitution which deal respectively with navigational aids, astronomy and meteorology, and weights and measures.

Given the proper concern of the Parliament with civil liberties, I am sure the following features of the Bill will be of interest. Under Clause 88 of the Bill, all decisions of the Minister which could, given the constraints of practicality , be made the subject of administrative review, have been placed within the jurisdiction of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Delegated decision-making will first be subject to an internal review. However, the decision taken on that review will be subject to review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The Government considers this to be an essential safeguard to the rights of individuals affected by the operation of what must be, to some extent, discretionary powers. Given the vast range of communications equipment and the needs of individual users and communities, it is considered that a certain amount of discretion is essential. Every effort has been made, however, to limit and define discretionary powers. The Bill differs markedly in this regard from the Wireless Telegraphy Act in which powers of unfettered discretion were much greater. Some discretions should, however, be highlighted. Paragraph 11 (2) (b) allows the Minister to permit the supply of substandard transmitters. This power is intended to allow the transfer of collectors items. It will not be used to allow a de facto trade in substandard equipment for use. A decision made under paragraph 11 (2) (b) is reviewable by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The administrative instruments associated with standards, advisory guidelines and spectrum planning are subject to the discipline of public comment and parliamentary review. Those instruments directly affecting individual rights will be subject to parliamentary disallowance and even those which have a purely advisory or planning character must be tabled. The powers of suspension of compliance statement certificates and licences-clauses 13 and 28-are not subject to Adminsitrative Appeals Tribunal review because suspension would lapse before such a review was possible. In the more serious cases, where a prosecution is commenced, review by the Tribunal would conflict with consideration of the issues by a court. It has also been considered unnecessary in these clauses to specify the matters that are to be considered in reaching a decision. According to legal advice, a power of this nature can be utilised only in terms of the provisions empowering the grant of the instrument, and the relevant considerations are therefore implied.

Clauses 68 to 77 specify the powers of inspectors. Clause 72, in particular, allows searches without warrant in emergency situations. This power is necessary for the effective enforcement of this legislation, particularly in cases of deliberate interference to safety services or other cases of deliberate interference. The Government will not allow this power to be abused. It is purely and simply an emergency power and is subject to certain requirements which will be enforced by the courts.

It is intended that this legislation will apply to the Australian Antarctic Territory and to all external territories. However, given the special legal status of Antarctica as defined in Article 4 of the Antarctic Treaty, and given our responsibility to facilitate radiocommunications for safety reasons in such inhospitable regions, I have determined that radio transmitters operated by foreign nationals in the Australian Antarctic Territory should be classed as ' prescribed transmitters'. This means that they would not require transmitter licences or temporary permits. However, the Governor-General is empowered under the Australian Antarctic Territory Act 1954 to make ordinances which could include, if circumstances warranted, ordinances relating to radio transmitters operated by foreign nationals in the Australian Antarctic Territory.

I have explained previously that the Government expects that the provisions of the Bill in relation to standards, spectrum planning and other measures will facilitate a reduction in the levels of interference to and between radiocommunications services. However, these measures will not be fully effective for some time as the existing stock of licensed transmitters will not be subject to the standards provisions of this Bill. Accordingly, other methods are necessary to control interference. This control will be achieved by regulations made under clause 93 of the Bill, where provision is made for ' Prohibiting or regulating any act or thing likely to cause interference, or risk of interference to radiocommunications'. Regulations made under this power will enable both specific and general interference problems to be dealt with. For example, regulations could be made specifying the acceptable level of interference that could be tolerated by vital safety services such as air-to- ground communications and action that could be taken to eliminate any higher level of interference from offending devices. These regulations would also be capable of controlling interference to broadcasting and television transmissions .

The financial impact of this Bill is difficult to quantify. In some areas substantial deregulation is proposed. For instance, the Bill facilitates a substantial reduction in the licensing of receivers and low power transmitters. There will be consequent savings for the Government in the costs of administration, and users will no longer need to pay licence fees. Substantial savings can be expected both for the Government and the community as a whole as the Bill's provisions relating to standards and control over interference gradually result in the lessening of interference to and between radiocommunications services. The Government will need to spend proportionally less time on interference investigations and the private operator will be assured of a more efficient communications system. On the other hand increased administrative costs can be expected because of the Government's commitment to public consultation and appeal rights against administrative decisions. Increased costs may be experienced by industry in some areas due to the introduction of standards for devices impacting on the spectrum. New equipment may need to be of a higher standard than that currently employed. In the medium to long term the Government expects that this Bill will result in substantially improved efficiency in the use of the radio frequency spectrum. This will confer appreciable economic advantages on the community as a whole as business, government and individuals are able to achieve increased efficiency in their operations resulting from the use of radiocommunications.

I should touch on the subject of import controls over substandard equipment. While no mention is made in this Bill of prohibiting the import of substandard equipment, it is the Government's intention that substandard equipment would be barred from entering Australia through the mechanism of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations.

In conclusion the Government extends its thanks to all those in the community who gave freely of their time and expertise in the public consultation process leading up to the finalisation of this Bill. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr McVeigh) adjourned.