Ministers for the Department of Communications and the Arts

Joint Release with The Hon. Paul Fletcher MP: Cutting red tape for the digital age

22 October 2014

The Australian Government is today announcing a package of measures to eliminate unnecessary red tape and remove onerous or outdated reporting requirements in the communications sector.

The measures will generate cumulative savings of over $70 million for consumers and businesses, and result in over 3,400 pages of redundant or obsolete regulation being repealed.

Telecommunications and broadcasting are two of the most heavily regulated parts of the Australian economy.

One of the key reforms affecting consumers is the move to a one-time sign-up system for the Do Not Call Register.  The Register covers more than nine million telephone numbers, and approximately one million numbers are added yearly.

Another reform reducing red tape for consumers is a relaxation of the National Broadband Network's regulations regarding battery backup.  NBN Co will no longer require consumers to have a battery backup unit installed in their house whether they want it or not.  Moving to an optional approach will enhance customer choice and reduce the cost of the NBN.

Spring Repeal Day is the latest step in the Government's plan to boost economic growth and productivity by removing $1 billion in unnecessary regulatory costs from the economy each year.

Key measures in the three bills for the Communications portfolio to be introduced to Parliament include:

  • Repealing regulation that currently requires subscription broadcasters to independently audit their expenditure on Australian and New Zealand drama.  This will remove a significant cost and administrative burden for that sector without affecting the amount of local content broadcast.
  • Removing the current captioning compliance reporting obligation on free-to-air television broadcasters. This will be replaced by a complaints-based model designed to reduce the industry's administrative and reporting burden without affecting the quality or availability of captioning.*
  • Extending the registration period for the Do Not Call Register so consumers only need to register a phone number once to ensure they don't receive unwanted telemarketing calls or marketing faxes.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has announced a number of measures in support of the Government's deregulation agenda, which also focus on removing unnecessary reporting obligations and outdated Codes of Practice.

The ACMA measures include:

  • Reducing the frequency of certain reporting arrangements for businesses in the communications sector, minimising overlaps in reporting requirements, and simplifying record-keeping and compliance.
  • Deregistering outdated Codes of Practice, such as the eMarketing Code and the SPAM Code.

The Government also proposes to repeal the Telecommunications Universal Service Management Agency Act 2012 and the Telecommunications (Universal Service Levy) Act 2012. Having a single agency responsible for policy and implementation of telecommunications universal service will increase industry certainty, and reduce unnecessary bureaucracy, without any reduction in important consumer protections.

Media contacts:

David Bold, Office of Malcolm Turnbull MP, 0427 784 451
Luke Coleman, Office of Paul Fletcher MP, 0414 728 720

*This release was updated on 29 October 2014 to clarify that the proposed changes to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 do not introduce any new auditing requirements, rather they refer to the ACMA's pre-existing discretionary powers to undertake investigations of compliance with broadcast licence conditions. The measures proposed would move from the current captioning compliance reporting obligation on free-to-air television broadcasters to a complaints-based model. Broadcasters will still be required to meet existing and future legislated captioning targets for television programs to assist viewers with hearing impairment.

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