• The Australian Communications and Media Authority conducted a consultation proposing to grant itself more powers to issue infringement notices. This is in place of court proceedings for regulatory breaches.
  • The proposal includes remaking and modifying the Telecommunications (Listed Infringement Notice Provisions) Declaration 2011.
  • According to ACMA, it believes that the power to issue infringement notices is an important part of their enforcement activity. However, in a discussion paper released for the consultation, the regulator also said that the instrument should be modified.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority conducted a consultation proposing to grant itself more powers to issue infringement notices. This is in place of court proceedings for regulatory breaches. The two regulatory instruments are due to sunset in April 2022, which is why the regulator has already launched a consultation on a proposal to remake them.

The proposal includes remaking and modifying the Telecommunications (Listed Infringement Notice Provisions) Declaration 2011. This declaration allows the regulator to issue infringement notices. This is in place of initiating court proceedings in case an authorised officer deems that a contravention of a listed civil penalty provision has taken place.

As a key part of the reforms enabled under the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Act 2010, the infringement notice scheme was intended to improve the regulatory effectiveness of ACMA. As stipulated earlier, this is through the establishment of a scheme that authorised the regulator’s officers to issue an infringement notice for contraventions of civil penalty provisions under the Telecommunications Act 1997, the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999, and the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979.

According to ACMA, it believes that the power to issue infringement notices is an important part of their enforcement activity. However, in a discussion paper released for the consultation, the regulator also said that the instrument should be modified.

For breaches of regulatory obligations relating to unsolicited communications, as well as one for breaches of consumer protection rules, ACMA issued a total of nine infringement notices last 2019 to 2020. The total penalties were just under $1.8 million.

The regulator plans to add new provisions to the declaration. These new provisions have come into force since the last amendment. In addition to this, ACMA is also proposing to add additional infringement categories. These categories are from older telecommunications legislation “where it has become apparent that additional compliance and enforcement options would be beneficial to the regulatory system.”

Additionally, the regulator is also consulting on its proposal to remake the Universal Service Obligation (Payphone Performance Benchmarks) Record-Keeping Rules without any significant changes. The rules are said to apply to Telstra, which is the sole supplier of payphones under the Universal Service Obligation. ACMA requires the telco to keep records of its performance against the standards related to rectifying faults or service difficulties with payphones and payphone carriage services. All of these are for the enforcement activity of the regulator for failing to meet the benchmarks.