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Consultation on consumer representation in the telecommunications industry

The Department of Communications and the Arts has released an issues paper inviting submissions on the effectiveness of section 593 of the Telecommunications Act 1997, under which the Government provides funding for telecommunications consumer representation and research.

Australia's telecommunications landscape has changed dramatically since section 593 was enacted in 1997. As the National Broadband Network rollout continues to gather pace and consumers are presented with an ever-increasing variety of telecommunications options, consumers can face challenges in finding  the right products and services to meet their needs.

This review provides an opportunity to assess whether section 593 remains fit-for-purpose in an evolving telecommunications market, or if improvements could be made for the benefit of consumers.

With the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network's (ACCAN) current five-year funding agreement due to conclude in May 2017, now is an appropriate time to invite feedback on the effectiveness of both ACCAN itself and section 593 of the Act to ensure that consumer interests remain well-represented  into the future.

ACCAN is currently the sole recipient of funding under section 593. ACCAN's activities include representing consumers in consultation processes, conducting research and providing information and advice to assist consumers in making informed decisions.

The issues paper poses questions across three key areas:

  1. consumer representation and the effectiveness of ACCAN,  
  2. the independent grants program and research, currently administered by ACCAN,  
  3. the scope of Section 593 of the Act, and whether other activities should be funded beyond consumer representation and research.  

The Government is committed to ensuring effective representation for consumers of telecommunications services in an evolving telecommunications market. Any changes made as a result of the review will be evaluated in terms of whether they provide better outcomes for Australian consumers.

The Government is seeking feedback on the issues paper by 25 November 2016.

The issues paper, and details on how to make a submission, are available at: www.communications.gov.au/have-your-say/consumer-representation-review-accan.      

Media contact: Luisa Anderson | 0417 309 812 | Luisa.Anderson [at] communications.gov.au