Monday, 22 May 2017 23:31

Rowland lashes government over ACMA review Featured

Michelle Rowland, Labor Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland, Labor Shadow Communications Minister

The Labor Party has questioned why the government has taken so long to release the review of the Australian Communications and Media Authority and says there still remain fundamental questions about what type of regulator the government wants ACMA to be.

Shadow Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland also questioned if the government knew how independent it wanted ACMA to be in exercising its responsibilities, describing the review report as “modest” and of “unremarkable substance”.

As reported by iTWire, the federal government's review of the ACMA was released on Monday, making recommendations for reform of ACMA, including a more defined role of its regulatory remit at a time of “radical change” in the communications sector.

“The underlying problem was that this government never really knew why it commenced the ACMA review in the first place, and neither did stakeholders," Rowland said in response to publication of the review.

“It was genuine reform that was needed first, because that would enable the design of a regulator to better promote the objectives of principles-based legislation.

“The importance and urgency of the reform task is highlighted by the executive summary,” Rowland said, pointing to the review’s finding that “the ageing regulatory regime maintains a distinction in many areas between technologies which no longer exist and places excessive emphasis on traditional sectors to achieve public policy outcomes”.

She said Labor welcomed recommendation 27 of the review as a concession that the government’s “piecemeal approach” was not delivering for the communications sector.

Rowland’s comment was a reference to the review recommendation that “to enable the communications sector to reach its full potential as an enabler of innovation and productivity, the government should commence a co-ordinated programme of regulatory reform to establish a contemporary regulatory framework".

And in another swipe at the government, Rowland said recommendation 4 of the review, which proposed the communications department be head of delegation for international spectrum policy forums, “is one example that illustrates the government’s ongoing confusion about institutional responsibilities and capabilities in spectrum management”.

“Without proper funding, spectrum reform may suffer in terms of quality and speed,” Rowland said, pointing out that the government’s last budget made no provision for preparatory work for spectrum review implementation by the ACMA.

"What is needed is an expert and properly resourced regulator,” she concluded.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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