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Improving the telecommunications powers and immunities framework

The Australian Government is seeking comments on what reforms are required that would ensure the powers and immunities framework continues to meet the needs of modern Australia.

Why we want your input

We are seeking to improve the powers and immunities framework to balance the interests of stakeholders with the provision of modern telecommunications services.

How you can voice your opinion

You can submit your views by clicking the Have Your Say button below, by sending an email, or mailing your submission before 5pm on 30 October 2020.

What will be the outcome of this consultation?

Your submissions will inform if, or how, the proposals in this paper are implemented. Further consultation will be undertaken for policy proposals as needed.

The Issue

Telecommunications companies have some powers to enter land and install and maintain some types of telecommunications facilities, and some immunities from some state and territory legislation when doing so.

The laws are set out under Schedule 3 to the Telecommunications Act 1997 and are critical to the efficient construction and maintenance of telecommunications networks.

The Department is consulting on possible changes to strike the right balance between the community's need to access reliable, affordable telecommunications services and ensuring that property owners, local governments and communities have a say in the deployment of infrastructure that affects them.

Most aspects of carrier powers and immunities have been in place since 1997. Since then, communications technologies have evolved rapidly, and demand for services and data has increased dramatically.

The upcoming scale and level of investment in 5G networks requires a review of the powers and immunities framework to ensure it is efficient and effective in today's operating environment. This paper seeks stakeholder feedback on how to balance both deployment and landowner needs.

In 2017, the Government consulted on 24 proposed reforms to the powers and immunities framework requested by mobile carriers and NBN Co. Of the 24 proposals, the Government at the time implemented 10 reforms in 2018 and agreed to consult further on the remaining reform proposals.

In 2018, the Department established the Powers and Immunities Reference Group (PIRG) to improve the operation of the existing powers and immunities framework. The PIRG comprised carriers and property owner stakeholder groups including the Property Council of Australia, the Australian Local Government Association, rail and road authorities, and water and energy utilities.

The ideas in this consultation process have been drawn from the public submissions to the 2017 consultation process, discussions held at the PIRG and carrier workshops.

Your feedback on the proposals is important in assisting Government to consider what reforms are required to achieve a powers and immunities framework that meets the needs of modern Australia.

 

Relevant Documentation

Improving the telecommunications powers and immunities framework—

Published 16th Sep 2020

Download PDF (923.69 KB) Download DOC (1.04 MB)

Telecommunications services play an important and expanding role in how people in the community go about their daily lives and how businesses operate. The Government is committed to Australians having ready access to high-quality, reliable and affordable telecommunications services.

Improving the telecommunications powers and immunities framework—consultation outcomes paper

Published 1st Mar 2021

Download PDF (432.19 KB) Download DOC (186.47 KB)

This paper provides an overview of the key themes raised in submissions from stakeholders in response to the consultation paper, and an outline of the Government’s intentions and next steps relating to each proposal.

Outcome

The department received 49 submissions from a wide range of stakeholders.

After considering this feedback, the Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts has agreed the Department to further consult on the proposed reforms across a two-tranche work plan. Tranche One contains amendments that could be quickly implemented through subordinate legislation. Tranche Two contains changes that would require further policy consideration before implementation, and changes that would require amendments to the primary Act legislation, the Telecommunications Act 1997.

Tranche One

The content of Tranche One relates to:

  • clarifying and reinforcing carrier safety requirements
  • amending Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman referral conditions
  • regulating notice withdrawals for cancelled works
  • increasing the maximum sizes of some low-impact facilities, and
  • increasing the co-location volume limit in commercial areas.

Consultation has now commenced on the first tranche of reforms to the Telecommunications (Low-impact Facilities) Determination 2018 and the Telecommunications Code of Practice 2018. Consultation is occurring on a new Have Your Say page on the department's website at Amendments to the telecommunications carrier powers and immunities framework—Tranche One.

Tranche Two

The content of Tranche Two relates to the possible development of amendments for:

  • smart poles
  • redundant facility management, and
  • extending notification timeframes.

The department will work closely with stakeholders to discuss Tranche Two reforms on an ongoing basis.

The department has furthermore prepared a Consultation Outcomes Paper, which provides a summary of the trends observed in stakeholder feedback, and an overview of the department's work plan.

Participate

16 Sep 2020 09:00 AEST - 30 Oct 2020 17:00 AEDT
Closed

Submissions

Water Services Association of Australia
Western Australian Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage
Western Australian Local Government Association
Yarra City Council