Bills Digest No. 74 1996-97 Radiocommunications (Receiver Licence Tax) Amendment Bill 1996


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WARNING:
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.

CONTENTS

Passage History

Radiocommunications (Receiver Licence Tax) Amendment Bill 1996

Date Introduced: 5 December 1996
House: Representatives
Portfolio: Communications and the Arts
Commencement: 1 July 1997

Purpose

The Bill amends the Radiocommunications (Receiver 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 Authority (ACA).

Background

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 receiver 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.

Main Provisions

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. </ ul>

Item 3 provides a transitional mechanism to preserve the validity of a notification, issued by the holder of a receiver 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 receiver licences, to continue after 1 July 1997, as if those determinations had been made by the proposed new ACA.

Endnotes

  1. See Annual Report 1995-96, Spectrum Management Agency, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1996.
  2. Ibid: 7

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

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 amendments.

PRS staff are available to discuss the paper's contents with Senators and Members and their staff but not with members of the public.

ISSN 1323-9031
Commonwealth of Australia 1997

Except to the extent of the uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without the prior written consent of the Parliamentary Library, other than by Members of the Australian Parliament in the course of their official duties.

Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1997.

This page was prepared by the Parliamentary Research Service, Commonwealth of Australia
Last updated: 20 January 1997.


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