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Improving the operation of the powers and immunities framework

We are committed to improving the powers and immunities framework to get the best out of new networks, including 5G, and to better balance the interests of both landowners and carriers.

In 2020, the department consulted on 12 possible changes to the carriers’ powers and immunities framework. The proposals were designed to better balance and modernise the operation of the framework. The department received 49 submissions in response to the consultation process. Some of the responses from carriers and landowners also recommended additional policy changes to the powers and immunities framework.

After considering stakeholder feedback, the department developed a work plan to consider and progress the reforms to the powers and immunities framework.

Powers and Immunities reforms: multi-tranche work plan

Tranche One

Tranche One includes straight forward amendments to the Telecommunications Code of Practice 2021 (the Code) and Telecommunications (Low-Impact Facilities) Amendment Determination 2021 (the LIFD) to improve the operation of the powers and immunities framework and better balance the interests of landowners with those of carriers.

The department consulted on exposure drafts of the Code and the LIFD and received 19 submissions. Additional targeted consultation was undertaken to further inform the changes to the framework that were implemented in November 2021.

The amendments implemented as part of Tranche One include:

  • Improved readability by consolidating many duplicative provisions across the Code.
  • Required carriers to:
    • provide engineering certificates for certain deployments of low-impact facilities;
    • record the depth of underground facilities at the time of installation;
    • issue notices of withdrawal for cancelled activities; and
    • refer objections to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) within 10 business days, if requested by a landowner.
  • Enabled carriers to:
    • independently refer matters to the TIO;
    • deploy larger antennae, larger dishes and lens antennae;
    • install successive tower extensions, while preserving the cumulative limit of 5 metres; and
    • co-locate more facilities in commercial areas.

Tranche 2

Tranche 2 includes proposals that require further consideration and consultation, and may result in changes to the Telecommunications Act 1997. These matters are:

  • specifying smart poles as a low-impact facilities
  • considering the management of redundant telecommunications facilities, and
  • extending notification periods for proposed low-impact facility installations from 10 to 20 days.

After reviewing stakeholder feedback to the 2020 and 2021 consultation processes, the Government may consider including other additional proposals as part of Tranche Two. For example:

  • The development of an industry code to improve consultation on land access arrangements between landowners and carriers, and
  • reviewing strategies to better mitigate the impact of telecommunications facility on visual amenity.

These examples do not limit the type or number of additional proposals the Government may seek to include in Tranche Two.

From late 2021, the department will meet with key stakeholders to further consider and progress each of these proposed reforms with detailed consultation to be undertaken in early 2022.

Additional Matters

While the immediate focus is to progress the proposals in Tranche Two, the department is keen to hear about additional policy matters to improve the operation of the carriers’ powers and immunities framework. You can forward your policy suggestions to powersandimmunities@communications.gov.au.