Bills Digest 95 1996-97 Telecommunications Amendment Bill 1996

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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.


Passage History

Telecommunications Amendment Bill 1996

Date Introduced: 30 October 1996
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Communications and the Arts
Commencement: This Act commences 28 days after it receives the Royal Assent. Part 2 of Schedule 1 of amendments commences immediately after Part 1.


The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Telecommunications Act 1991 to:

  • clarify the provisions of the Telecommunications Act 1991 in respect of the exception to the prohibition on disclosing the content of a communications carried by a carrier in relation to emergencies, and
  • set up the administrative provisions for collecting the annual numbering fee (and penalties for late payment) imposed by the Telecommunications (Numbering Fees) Act 1991 as amended by the Telecommunications (Numbering Fees) Amendment Bill 1996.


The telecommunications industry is currently the subject of a complete regulatory revision and the background to that revision can be found in a digest of the Telecommunications Bill 1996.

The Telecommunications Act 1991 is repealed from 1 July 1997 (by the Telecommunications (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendment) Bill 1996) and replaced by the Telecommunications Act1996.Consequently, the changes made by this Bill are only relevant until that time.

Main Provisions

Part 1 of Schedule 1 - Emergency Calls

Section 88 of the Telecommunications Act 1991 imposes a custodial penalty on certain persons who disclose the content of a communication carried by a carrier.The section then sets out an extensive list of exceptions to prohibition.This bill deals with the exception in respect of emergency calls.

In its present form, the exception provides that the prohibition does not apply to facts coming to a person's knowledge because of a call to the emergency number 000, where the disclosure is to the police, fire brigade or ambulance service.

This Part repeals that provision and inserts a substantially more detailed provision which alters the meaning of the provision only marginally.The term 'emergency service number' is used - it means a number for use in connection with emergencies that are likely to require assistance from the police, fire service, ambulance service or other service specified in the national numbering plan.

The information which can be disclosed consists of the name, telephone number, address, location and matters raised by the call.

The disclosure must be made to the police, fire service, ambulance service, an emergency call person or a member of a service specified in the national numbering plan for the purpose of the section.

Part 2 of Schedule 1- Numbering Charges

The Telecommunication (Numbering Fees) Act 1991 imposes an annual charge on numbers held by carriers where those numbers were allocated under the Telecommunications Act 1991 or were taken by Telstra (or its predecessors) before AUSTEL was given the task of allocating numbers.

This Part amends the Telecommunications Act 1991 to allow AUSTEL to make determinations:

  • setting out when a numbering charge is due and payable
  • in relation to imposing penalties for late payment of numbering charges (including the power to remit penalties and to withdraw a number following non-payment).

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Lee Jones
5 February 1997
Bills Digest Service
Information and Research Services

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.

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 1323-9031
Commonwealth of Australia 1996

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 Library, Commonwealth of Australia
Last updated: 26 March 1997

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