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Thursday, 22 June 2017
Page: 7437


Mr FLETCHER (BradfieldMinister for Urban Infrastructure) (10:17): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Telecommunications (Regional Broadband Scheme) Charge Bill 2017, which I am introducing today, will, together with schedule 4 of the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer) Bill 2017, establish the Regional Broadband Scheme to ensure there are sustainable funding arrangements in place to provide essential broadband services to regional, rural and remote Australians.

The bill would impose, from 1 July 2018, a monthly charge on carriers in relation to each premises connected to their network that has an active fixed-line superfast broadband service during the month. The charge would have two components: a base component and an administrative cost component. The bill would set the initial base component amount at $7.09, which is then subject to indexation. The bill also sets the administrative cost component for the first five years.

The money collected from the base component of the charge would be used to fund the losses NBN Co incurs in constructing and operating its fixed wireless and satellite networks, replacing the company's opaque internal cross-subsidy from its fixed-line networks. The money collected from the administrative cost component would fund the enforcement and administration costs of the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) associated with the scheme.

The bill also sets out the arrangements to enable the minister, by disallowable legislative instrument, to adjust the base component and the administrative cost components. This will ensure the monthly charge amount reflects the size of the fixed line broadband market and the net losses incurred by NBN Co in respect of its fixed wireless and satellite networks. The bill would require the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to give advice to the minister in relation to resetting the base and administrative cost components at least once every five years. The minister must have regard to this advice when deciding whether to adjust the charge amount.

The administrative arrangements for the Regional Broadband Scheme, including arrangements for the annual (in arrears) assessment and collection of the charge, and associated reporting arrangements are set out in schedule 4 of the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer) Bill.

Once established, the Regional Broadband Scheme will provide certainty for regional Australians that their essential broadband services will be available into the future.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.