Communications Legislation Amendment (Deregulation and Other Measures) Bill 2015 and the Telecommunications (Numbering Charges) Amendment Bill 2015

I rise to speak on the Communications Legislation Amendment (Deregulation and Other Measures) Bill 2015 and the Telecommunications (Numbering Charges) Amendment Bill 2015.

The value of these bills, although useful, shouldn’t be overstated. As I have said before in relation to these deregulation bills you don’t put out a press release when you vacuum the lounge room or mop the bathroom, but here we are again and that is effectively what the Government is doing. They are making a big deal about something which is straightforward, a rudimentary cleaning-up exercise.

The first regulation repeal bill saved the telecommunications industry $35 million. The last one saved the industry just $350,000 and now according to the Explanatory Memorandum, this one will save nothing at all.

Having said that, these bills are straight forward and we will not oppose them.

The Deregulation and Other Measures Bill makes a number of amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act to:

  • modify audit requirements;
  • extend the classes of people able to make statutory declarations about gross earnings;
  • provide the Australian Communications and Media Authority with discretion to waive small unpaid licence fees and any additional penalties;
  • remove duplicated requirements to notify ACMA about certain changes in the control of media assets;
  • amend auditing requirements for balance-sheets and profit and loss accounts;
  • repeal provisions to allow for a single classification scheme for all television programs, including films; and
  • remove duplication in ACMA’s complaint handling and investigation processes and redefine ACMA’s powers of investigation with regards to complaints made about commercial and national broadcasters and datacasting services.

This Bill also removes tariff filing requirements for certain carriers and carriage service providers, amends the role of the ACMA with regards to monitoring and reporting of information and repeals outdated legislation

Ironically according to the Explanatory Memorandum it also restores a provision that was repealed in a previous Deregulation Bill.

This latest Deregulation legislation also provides a framework for the telecommunications industry to develop an industry scheme to manage telephone numbering. The purpose of the Telecommunications (Numbering Charges) Amendment Bill 2015 is to make consequential amendments to the Telecommunications (Numbering Charges) Act 1997 to reflect changes made by the Deregulation Bill. It inserts new definitions that are compatible with the establishment of an allocation system which is managed by an industry-based scheme manager.

The Opposition has consulted with the telecommunications industry, including Communications Alliance, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network and Free TV Australia and they support the passage of these bills.

On this basis the Opposition support passage of these bills in the House of Representatives.