news The government has announced further measures aimed to cut red tape and costs to benefit both the communications sector and the general public.
Revealed in the 2 December announcement are the introduction of the Communications Legislation Amendment (Deregulation and Other Measures) Bill 2015 and Telecommunications (Numbering Charges) Amendment Bill 2015, which the government hopes will increase productivity while reducing compliance costs on industry and consumers.
The move comes at a time when Australia’s broadcasting and communications landscape is undergoing intense disruption brought from new digital technologies that are rendering traditional regulation inefficient or even redundant, the statement said.
These bills will address outdated regulatory requirements while “preserving flexibility for the regulators to adapt to changing industry trends”.
The bills include measures to:
- Streamline account-keeping and licence fee administration arrangements for commercial broadcasters and datacasting transmitter licensees
- Remove duplication for licensees, publishers and controllers who must notify the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) of changes in control of regulated media assets
- Implement a single classification scheme for TV programs and films
- Establish a framework by which the telecommunications industry can develop an appropriate scheme to self-manage telephone numbering.
According to the statement from the office of Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, there has been “significant progress” already in 2015 in the implementation of regulatory reforms in the communications sector. More than 20 new regulatory measures have resulting in estimated annual savings of over $250 million for businesses in the communications sector.
Key measures introduced this year and being highlighted by Fifield as victories for the Government include:
- Reforms to support the rollout of high-speed broadband using multiple technologies, providing greater flexibility for carriers to deploy telecommunications infrastructure, enabling cheaper construction and reduced delay costs for the national broadband network rollout
- Significant measures to modernise Australia Post, allowing it to operate with greater efficiency and flexibility in the face of a rapid decline in letter volumes and revenue
- The removal of retail price controls in telecommunications.
The statement said that government has introduced more than 65 communications sector measures in 2014-2015 aimed at simplifying regulation, and has removed thousands of pages of unnecessary regulation.
“This has delivered an estimated cumulative annual savings of $340 million for businesses and consumers in the communications sector,” it said.
The government also promises longer term regulatory changes, including improvements to Australia’s spectrum management framework and a review of the ACMA, to ensure the regulator remains “fit-for-purpose in a rapidly changing environment”.
It is not yet clear how the Opposition and minor parties will react to the legislation.