Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Digital Radio) Bill 2015

It is a privilege to rise on this important piece of legislation, the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Digital Radio) Bill 2015, which relates to digital radio and digital radio reform. Digital radio has been a reality for Australians since 2009. On 1 July 2009 commercial digital radio services were set up in the metropolitan licence areas of Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Designated community radio broadcasters joined the fray and began their digital services, in these areas, in May 2011. Adding to these services, digital radio trials in Canberra and Darwin mean that around 64 per cent of the Australian population live in areas covered by digital radio transmissions. The legislation that regulates these broadcasts, namely, section 215B of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and section 313B of the Radiocommunications Act 1992, need to be constantly reviewed to ensure the rules and standards that govern digital radio are working as intended.

To this end, the Minister for Communications is required to have a statutory review process conducted and, over the last couple of years, a discussion paper and consultation process have been conducted. In July 2015 the government released the report that emerged from these reviews, and the bill we are considering now draws on some of the recommendations of that report. Whilst the matters in this bill are uncontroversial and will attract the opposition’s support, we note that this bill has not enacted a number of other recommendations, things that may require a greater level of scrutiny before we agree to support them. We look forward to early engagement with the government as it prepares any further amendments to the regulatory structure for digital radio arising out of the digital radio review or any other reviews that the government may conduct.