Bills Digest No. 34  2000-01 Telecommunications (Universal Service Levy) Amendment Bill 2000


Numerical Index | Alphabetical Index

WARNING:
This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

CONTENTS

Passage History
Purpose
Background
Main Provisions
Contact Officer & Copyright Details

Passage History

Telecommunications (Universal Service Levy) Amendment Bill 2000

Date Introduced: 29 June 2000

House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Communications, Information Technology and the Arts

Commencement: Immediately after the commencement of the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Amendment Act (No.2) 2000. This legislation will be deemed to have commenced on 1 July 2000.

Purpose

To make minor amendments to the Telecommunications (Universal Service Levy) Act 1997 in consequence of provisions contained in the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Amendment Bill (No.2) 2000.

Background

The Telecommunications (Universal Service Levy) Act 1997 (the Principal Act) imposes a levy on telecommunications carriers to fund the Universal Service Obligation (USO) and the Digital Data Service Obligation (DDSO). These obligations are imposed on telecommunications carriers by the provisions of the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999.

This Bill has been introduced in conjunction with the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Amendment Bill (No.2) 2000, which amends Part 2 of the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999 to establish a new universal service regime. Readers should consult the Bills Digest for that Bill for background to this legislation.

Main Provisions

Item 1 of Schedule 1 repeals the definition of 'participating carrier' in section 5 of the Principal Act reflecting the Government's decision to impose the levy on 'participating persons'.

Item 2 inserts a definition of 'participating person'. This term refers to telecommunications carriers and service providers who will be required to contribute to the cost of the USO and DDSO under the new universal service regime. The meaning of this term is the same as in Part 2 of the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999.

Proposed section 20A of the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Amendment Bill (No.2) 2000 defines a participating person as a person who was a carrier at any time during the eligible revenue period; or a carriage service provider (for example an Internet service provider) determined to be a participating person by the Minister. A person will not be held to be a participating person if the person's gross telecommunications revenue for the eligible revenue period is less than a threshold amount determined by the Minister. The Minister may also determine that persons of a specified kind are not participating persons. The significance of this amendment is that for the first time carriage service providers may be required to directly pay the universal service levy.

Item 3 inserts a new section 6 which imposes a levy on participating persons who have a levy debit balance under section 20S of the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1997. The 'levy debit' will be calculated on the basis of the ratio of each carrier/provider's eligible revenue to the total of all eligible revenue multiplied by the total amount of levy credits (that is, the total amount of claims for payment of a USO subsidy accepted by the Australian Communications Authority).

Item 5 inserts a new section 8 which requires participating persons to pay a levy that has been imposed upon them.

Item 6 makes clear that the amendments in this Bill only apply from 1 July 2000.

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Mark Tapley and Kim Jackson
4 September 2000
Bills Digest Service
Information and Research Services

This paper has been prepared for general distribution to Senators and Members of the Australian Parliament. While great care is taken to ensure that the paper is accurate and balanced, the paper is written using information publicly available at the time of production. The views expressed are those of the author and should not be attributed to the Information and Research Services (IRS). Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion. Readers are reminded that the paper is not an official parliamentary or Australian government document.

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

ISSN 1328-8091
© Commonwealth of Australia 2000

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, 2000.

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