This Digest is prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as
introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments.
This Digest was available from 25 January 1997.
Radiocommunications (Transmitter Licence Tax) Amendment
Date Introduced: 5 December 1996
Portfolio: Communications and the Arts
Commencement: 1 July 1997
The Bill amends the Radiocommunications (Transmitter Licence
Tax) Act 1983 (the Principal Act) to recognise the merging of
the Spectrum Management Authority (SMA) with the telecommunications
regulator, AUSTEL, to form the proposed Australian Communications
The following background is common to the Radiocommunications
Amendment Bill 1996, Radiocommunications (Transmitter Licence Tax)
Amendment Bill 1996 and the Radiocommunications (Receiver Licence
Tax) Amendment Bill 1996.
This Bill is part of the major package of telecommunications
legislation which has been introduced into Parliament to allow for
the post-1997 telecommunications regime in Australia. Essentially,
the Bills in the package will provide for the establishment of a
new competitive telecommunications regime beginning on 1 July 1997
in place of the current duopoly.
A more detailed background and overview of the package of Bills
is found in the Bills Digest to the key piece of
legislation in the package, the Telecommunications Bill 1996.
The Spectrum Management Agency (SMA) is a Commonwealth statutory
agency within the portfolio of Communications and Arts. It was
established by the Radiocommunications Act 1992. The
primary function of SMA is to manage and allow access to the
radiofrequency spectrum. Technically, the 'spectrum' is the range
of frequencies used in radiocommunications. In such a vast
continent as Australia, radio-based communications are essential
for industry, safety and telecommunications, as well as providing
important cultural and recreational services. Australia depends
upon effective and efficient access to, and management of, the
spectrum. Australia's ready acceptance of the technology and the
convenience of mobile cellular telephones and digital cordless
services is a clear reminder of how relevant radiocommunications
are to the everyday life of most Australians.
At present, SMA has about 120,000 clients who hold some 202,000
licences which authorise access to the spectrum. (1) As part of the
proposed post-1997 changes in regulation of telecommunications in
Australia, SMA will merge with the telecommunications regulator,
AUSTEL, to form the Australian Communications Authority (ACA).
In the 1995-96 financial year, SMA had total actual
appropriations of $36,931,000 and total actual revenue of
$107,754,000. SMA has a staffing level of around 380. (2)
This Bill simply provides a transitional mechanism to enable the
continuation of notifications given to the SMA by holders of radio
transmitter licences, and determinations of the amount of tax
payable on those licences (issued by the SMA), to continue as if
they had been issued by the proposed new ACA.
Reader's Note: The proposed
amendments are included in Schedule 1 to the Bill. The terminology
to be used therefore is 'Item' in the Schedule in lieu of 'Clause'
in the Bill.
Item 3 provides a transitional mechanism to
preserve the validity of a notification, issued by the holder of a
transmitter licence to SMA before 1 July 1997, to continue in force
as if that notification had been issued to the proposed new ACA.
Such notifications are issued pursuant to subsection 6(5) of the
Principal Act to enable the holder of the licence to seek a
variation in how instalments of tax are paid.
Likewise, Item 4 simply provides a transitional
mechanism to preserve the validity of determinations made by the
SMA, of the amount and period applicable to taxes on transmitter
licences, to continue after 1 July 1997, as if those determinations
had been made by the proposed new ACA.
- See Annual Report 1995-96, Spectrum Management Agency,
Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1996.
- Ibid: 7
Brendan Bailey (06 2772434)
24 January 1997
Bills Digest Service
Parliamentary Research Service
This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other
sources should be consulted to determine whether the Bill has been
enacted and, if so, whether the subsequent Act reflects further
PRS staff are available to discuss the paper's contents
with Senators and Members and their staff but not with members of
Commonwealth of Australia 1997
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Last updated: 20 January 1997.
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