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Contact Officer & Copyright Details
Date Introduced: 1 April 1998
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Communications, the Information
Economy and the Arts
Commencement: Royal Assent
To provide for the imposition of
a charge on telecommunication carriers to recover costs incurred by
the Commonwealth in regulating industry development plans.
The Telecommunications (Carrier Licence Charges) Act
1997 (the Principal Act) imposes a fee on applications for
carrier licences and an annual charge on carrier licences.
Section 7 of the Principal Act imposes a charge when an
application is made for a carrier licence. The amount of charge is
calculated in accordance with a determination made by the
Australian Communications Authority. The maximum charge which may
be imposed is $100 000.
Section 12 imposes an annual charge on carrier licences that are
in force at the beginning of a financial year. The charge is
payable by the licence holder (section 13). The amount of the
charge is calculated in accordance with a determination made by the
Australian Communications Authority.
There is no limit on the amount of the annual licence charge
except that section 15 provides that the total of charges imposed
on licences must not exceed the sum of the amounts which represent
the proportion of the:
- Australian Communications Authority costs, for the
preceding financial year, that are attributable to its
telecommunications functions and powers
- Australian Competition and Consumer Commissions costs,
for the preceding financial year, that are attributable to its
telecommunications functions and powers, and
- Commonwealths contribution to the budget of the
International Telecommunications Union for the calendar year in
which the beginning of the financial year occurs that is to be
recovered from carriers.
The principal effect of the amendments proposed by the Bill is
to provide for the imposition of a charge on telecommunication
carries to recover costs incurred by the Department of Industry,
Science and Tourism (DIST) in administering Part 2 of Schedule 1 of
the Telecommunications Act 1997.
The rationale given by the government in the Second Reading
Speech to the Bill for the proposed amendments is:
... the licence charge payable by
telecommunications carriers does not recover costs incurred by
Part 2 of Schedule 1 of the Telecommunications Act 1997
deals with industry development plans. A carrier must have a
current industry plan. That plan must be given to the Minister for
Industry, Science and Tourism. The industry development plan is a
plan for the development in Australia, in connection with the
carrier's business as a carrier, of industries involved in the
manufacture, development or supply of facilities and research and
development relating to those industries. The plan must include
relevant details of the carrier's strategic commercial
relationships, research and development activities, involvement in
industry and export facilitation. A summary of the plan must be
made available to the public. Within 90 days of the end of each
financial year, a carrier must give the Minister for Industry,
Science and Tourism a report setting out the details of progress
made by the carrier in implementing the plan during that year and
make a summary of that report available to the public.
It is estimated by the Government in the Explanatory
Memorandum to the Bill that the proposed amendments will
enable the recovery of an estimated $600 000 per annum.
It is acknowledged by the Government, on page four of the
Explanatory Memorandum, that the cost of the Bill to
industry will be passed on to consumers.
The Government states on page four of the Explanatory
- As the turnover of telecommunications carriers is about $25
billion, the levy of about $600 000 will have no noticeable impact
on the prices faced by consumers, suppliers or carriers.
The above statement is unsupported, and it may be expected that
carriers, particularly full private carriers, will over time
attempt to recover the charge.
Item 1 of Schedule 1 inserts a
new paragraph 15(1)(e) in the Principal Act which includes in the
annual carrier licence charge an amount, determined by the Minister
for Industry, Science and Tourism, to be the Commonwealth's costs
for the preceding financial year in administering Part 2 of
Schedule 1 of the Telecommunications Act 1997.
8 April 1998
Bills Digest Service
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Commonwealth of Australia 1998
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