With the passage of the Telecommunications Act 1997 (the Act), responsibility for the authorisation of most telecommunications facilities was passed from the Australian Government to state and territory governments. Legislation and regulation outlines the legislative frameworks applying to the installation of telecommunications infrastructure.
Telecommunications facilities that are not specified in the Act or the Telecommunications (Low-impact facilities) Determination 1997 are subject to state or territory law. Typically, planning approval must be obtained for the installation of such facilities from the relevant local government authority.
- State and territory government planning departments
- Carrier consultation with councils
- Local government authorities
- Carrier obligations under the Ministerial Code of Practice
- ACT Planning and Land Authority – Australian Capital Territory
- Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources – New South Wales
- Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment – Northern Territory
- Department of Local Government, Planning, Sport and Recreation – Queensland
- Department of Transport and Urban Planning – South Australia
- Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment – Tasmania
- Department of Sustainability and Environment – Victoria
- Department of Planning and Infrastructure – Western Australia
The Australian Local Government Association provides a list of local councils which have an online presence.
The Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF) industry Code, Deployment of Mobile Phone Network Infrastructure outlines the consultation requirements which carriers need to undertake prior to installing a new facility without state or territory development approval. Under the ACIF Code a carrier must notify councils if they propose to carry out work on a facility.
Carriers also need to develop a consultation plan which identifies and addresses community interests and submit these to council. In relation to community consulation, a carrier is required under the ACIF Code to publish a newspaper notice in the affected surrounding area of the proposed works.
In general terms, the industry Code principally addresses public health and safety. Precautions are taken to minimise exposure to radio emissions by virtue of its possible association with health problems in order to protect people even through radio emissions at low levels have not been proven to cause such problems.
Under Schedule 3 to the Telecommunications Act 1997 (the Act), carriers can inspect land, maintain facilities and install specified facilities. Carriers are immune from state and territory planning and environmental laws when carrying out activities authorised under Schedule 3 to the Act. However, when carrying out activities authorised under Schedule 3 to the Act, carriers must comply with the Ministerial Telecommunications Code of Practice 1997 (Ministerial Code of Practice).
Under the Ministerial Code of Practice carriers are obligated to comply with the provisions listed below prior to installling a facility.
- make reasonable efforts to enter into an agreement with public utilities about the installation; comply with industry standards and listed international agreements;
- provide notice to road authorities and utilities; and
- act in accordance with good engineering practice; protect the safety of persons and property;
- ensure that the design, planning and installation of the facilities is in accordance with best practice and complies with the ACMA or industry codes or standards;
- co-operate with other carriers and public utilities who are undertaking similar activities on the same land to minimise inconvenience and damage; and
- minimise interference with public utilities, roads and paths, traffic and land use;
- take all reasonable steps to co-locate facilities with the existing facilities of other carriers or public utilities or use public easements;
- co-operate with other carriers and public utilities who are undertaking similar activities on the same land to minimise inconvience and damage; and
- where relevant, notify the Director of National Parks, the Heritage Chairperson or the Environment Secretary of the proposed activity.
Fact sheet - Local Government