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Government releases consumer representation review report

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) will continue to be funded as the peak body representing telecommunications consumers, following a review of section 593 of the Telecommunications Act 1997.

The final report on the review of telecommunications consumer representation has now been released, and makes ten recommendations including:

  • Retaining Section 593 of the Act and establishing a new funding agreement with ACCAN;
  • Proposals for improved engagement between ACCAN and industry
  • Improvements to the independent research grants program; administered by ACCAN, fostering collaboration between government, regulatory agencies and industry representatives to guide research priorities;
  • Removal of funding caps and time limits for research projects to provide greater flexibility and allow for longer-term research proposals.

Section 593 allows the Minister for Communications to make grants to organisations to represent the interests of consumers in relation to telecommunications services, and to conduct telecommunications-related research.

The Department of Communications and the Arts undertook a review of consumer representation in late 2016. A public consultation process attracted 65 submissions, the majority of which supported retaining section 593 of the Act.

The review also found that ACCAN is seen as an effective representative body by stakeholders, though steps could be taken to improve both its representation role and the benefits of the research it funds.

The Turnbull Government recognises the ongoing need for consumer representation in telecommunications policy and regulatory processes and has accepted the recommendations of the review.

The recommendations will be implemented by means of a new ACCAN funding agreement, to be entered into following the expiry of the current funding agreement in May 2017.

The review’s final report is released today and is available at https://www.communications.gov.au/have-your-say/consumer-representation-review-accan

Media contact: Geraldine Mitchell | 0407 280 476 | Geraldine.Mitchell [at] communications.gov.au