Review of the ACMA: November 2017 | ACMA

Review of the ACMA: November 2017

Context

On 12 June 2015, the former Minister for Communications announced that the Department of Communications and the Arts would conduct a wide-ranging review into the governance, functions, objectives, structure, performance and efficiency of the ACMA.

On 22 May 2017, the Australian Government released the final report of the ACMA review and its response. The  government supports, or supports in principle, all 27 of the recommendations of the review. Implementation of the recommendations is underway—a progress update into that process is below.

Progress on recommendations

The table below sets out each of the recommendations and progress with implementation in accordance with the government’s response to the ACMA review final report.

  Recommendation Progress

1

That the ACMA’s remit cover all the layers of the communications market, including infrastructure, transport, devices, content and applications.

The government supports this recommendation.

Reform of the first major piece of portfolio legislation is underway, with a re‑write of the Radiocommunications Act 1992.

Consultation on an Exposure Draft of the Radiocommunications Bill closed in July 2017. The Bill is expected to be introduced in 2018.

Media reforms passed the parliament on 16 October 2017.

Implementation of this recommendation is linked to recommendations 12 and 27.

2

That the ACMA’s cybersecurity programs, where appropriate, be transferred, along with staff and funding, to the Attorney-General’s Department.

The government supports this recommendation.

The Australian Internet Security Initiative was transferred to the Computer Emergency Response Team in the Attorney-General's Department on 1 July 2017.

3

That the Bureau of Communications Research1 assume the lead in taking forward research about the emerging environment and market trends, with the ACMA’s regulatory research program focusing on supporting the effectiveness of regulatory functions and harms that are affecting businesses and consumers.

The government supports this recommendation.

The Bureau of Communications and Arts Research (BCAR) and the ACMA meet on a quarterly basis, and are working closely on the development of research agendas and data sharing arrangements that are reflective of their respective responsibilities.

4

That the Department of Communications and the Arts be responsible for head of delegation roles to key international policy-setting forums, including the World Radiocommunication Conference, and that clear guidance and negotiating parameters be provided by the Department to heads of delegation.

The government supports this recommendation.

The Department and the ACMA shared the head of delegation role at the second meeting of the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity Preparatory Group for the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19) (referred to as APG-19) in Bali, Indonesia (17‑21 July 2017).

In March 2018, the Australian Government is hosting the third meeting of the APG-19 in Perth WA, as part of continuing preparations for WRC‑19. The Department and the ACMA are working together to finalise arrangements for the head of delegation at this meeting. The Department will assume the head of delegation role for WRC-19.
Appropriate head of delegation arrangements will be developed in collaboration with the ACMA regarding other relevant international fora.

5

That further work be undertaken to determine whether it may be more efficient for another body, such as the Australian Taxation Office, to undertake the revenue collection functions currently performed by the ACMA.

The government supports this recommendation.

The Department is exploring options, which will also be informed by the ACMA’s assessment of its cost base under recommendation 26.

6

That, within the next 12 months, the ACMA examine whether some or all of the following functions can be referred to industry for self-regulation, in consultation with relevant industry bodies:

  • technical standards
  • Integrated Public Number Database
  • Do Not Call Register
  • action on unsolicited communications, including spam.

The ACMA regularly explore further opportunities for self-regulation in consultation with industry.

The government supports this recommendation.

The ACMA commenced consultations on future options for unsolicited communications, the Do Not Call Register and the Integrated Public Number Database in October 2017.

Technical standards are a subset of technical regulation and have been industry self‑managed for several years. Opportunities for further reforms of such arrangements will be considered in the context of the implementation of spectrum reforms.

The ACMA will report to the minister by May 2018.

7

That the Department will undertake further work on the potential to expand the ACMA’s remit to include the functions of the Classification Board and Classification Review Board Scheme.

The government supports this recommendation.

The Department has consulted with state and territory classification officials, key industry peak bodies, community advocacy groups and international classification bodies to develop policy advice on modernising the classification scheme for the government's consideration. A decision to include classification functions in the ACMA’s remit will be considered as part of modernising the existing classification scheme.

8

That the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA) be amended to require the ACMA to:

  • handle all complaints relating to interactive gambling services and advertisements
  • conduct the same investigation process, irrespective of whether the content is hosted in Australia or overseas
  • enforce civil penalties for breaches of the Act.

The government supports this recommendation.

Amendments to the IGA regarding the expansion of the ACMA’s responsibilties came into effect on 13 September 2017. The ACMA has put arrangements in place to meet its expanded responsibilities under the IGA.

9

That the current institutional arrangements for economic regulation of the communications sector be retained.

The government supports this recommendation.

This recommendation requires no action.

10

That cross-appointment arrangements between the ACMA and ACCC be strengthened in order to benefit both ACMA and ACCC decision-making.

The government supports this recommendation.

Appointments to the ACMA are made by the Minister for Communications. The Treasurer is responsible for making appointments to the Australian Competition and Consumer Comission (ACCC). The government is currently considering options for cross-appointments betweeen the ACMA and the ACCC.

11

That the current institutional arrangements for communications consumer protections be retained.

The government supports this recommendation.

This recommendation requires no action.

12

That as a priority as future reform is undertaken, the government provide the ACMA with a clear set of overarching policy objectives to guide its decision‑making.

The government supports this recommendation.

This recommendation will be implemented over time as the regulatory arrangements the ACMA administers are reformed. Implementation of this recommendation is linked to recommendation 27.

13

That the commission model of decision-making be retained.

The government supports this recommendation.

In accordance with the government's response to the final report, the ACMA's Commission model of decision making will be strengthened by the appointment of three full-time members (in addition to the full-time Chair and full-time Deputy Chair/CEO).

Ms Nerida O’Loughlin was appointed Chair of the ACMA for five years, commencing on 14 October 2017. A process to appoint up to three full-time members and a full-time Deputy Chair/CEO will commence shortly.

14

That the skill set to be covered collectively by Authority members be outlined in legislation to ensure an appropriate and diverse mix of abilities to respond to the future needs of the ACMA.

The government supports this recommendation.

The Department is consulting the ACMA regarding proposed legislative amendments.

15

That all members of the Authority be appointed on a full-time basis and that the Authority consist of a Chair, a Deputy Chair and at least three other full-time members.

The government supports this recommendation in principle—further to the review recommendation, the government has decided to retain flexibility to appoint additional members on a part-time basis.

The Department is consulting the ACMA regarding proposed legislative amendments.

16

That the existing arrangements are maintained where the Chair is the Accountable Authority with an ability to delegate powers, duties and functions, to the extent permitted by the PGPA Act, to a CEO.

The government supports this recommendation.

The Department is consulting with the ACMA on proposed arrangements.

17

That provision be made in the ACMA Act for the Authority to establish sub-boards consisting of experts who could provide advice to the Authority or a Division of the Authority on specific areas of activity. The Chair of any such sub-boards be a member of the Authority but not be the Chair of the Authority.

The government supports this recommendation.

The Department is consulting the ACMA regarding proposed legislative amendments.

18

Legislate the following four regulator principles in the ACMA’s enabling legislation, proposed draft:

  • The ACMA have regard to the importance of promoting competition, innovation and efficient investment.
  • The ACMA should apply a risk-based approach to regulation, compliance and enforcement activities. Regulatory intervention should be targeted, evidence-based and commensurate with risk.
  • The ACMA should implement continuous review of regulation to reduce burden and streamline approaches where the benefits exceed the costs.
  • The ACMA should be timely and transparent in its actions and clearly indicate the priorities and objectives which inform its decision-making to regulated entities and the broader public.

The government supports this recommendation in principle (the government decided that rather than legislation, this will be actioned in the Minister’s Statement of Expectations to the ACMA).

This recommendation will be progressed through the SOE that the government will issue to the ACMA.

19

That the Minister provide the ACMA with an annual Statement of Expectations and the ACMA respond by publishing a Statement of Intent outlining how it will seek to deliver on the government’s expectations.

The government supports this recommendation.

The Department is preparing a draft SOE for the Minister for Communications. The ACMA will respond with a Statement of Intent.

20

That the Minister provide the ACCC with an annual Statement of Expectations and the ACCC respond by publishing a Statement of Intent outlining how it will seek to deliver on the government’s expectations.

The government supports this recommendation.

The Department is preparing a draft SOE for the Minister for Communications. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will respond with a Statement of Intent.

21

That timeliness of decision-making be established as a key area of focus and accountability for future cycles of the ACMA’s regulator performance framework and government consider legislative amendment to support more timely decision-making, where necessary.

The government supports this recommendation.

The ACMA will progress this recommendation through its Regulator Performance Framework report and Better Regulatory Practice Initiative.

22

That the ACMA publish information on the steps it takes to ensure stakeholders have a clear understanding of the relationship between its actions and its compliance and enforcement policy.

The government supports this recommendation.

The ACMA will progress this recommendation through its Regulator Performance Framework report and Better Regulatory Practice Initiative

23

That the ACMA publish a report to the minister every two years on initiatives undertaken to identify and reduce regulatory burden on industry and individuals.

The government supports this recommendation.

The ACMA will progress this recommendation through its regulatory reform program, with the first report covering July 2017–June 2019 period.  

24

That the ACMA produce a public report on steps taken to improve the transparency and consistency of its decision-making processes, and that implementation and stakeholder satisfaction be independently assessed by the end of 2017.

The government supports this recommendation.

The ACMA will progress this recommendation through its Regulator Performance Framework report and Better Regulatory Practice Initiative.

25

That it would be timely to review the policy objectives of revenue collection from the communications sector and evaluate whether new business models and OTT services are contributing appropriately.

The government supports this recommendation.

The Department will consider this recommendation alongside the ACMA’s analysis of its cost base under recommendation 26.

26

That the ACMA should further analyse its cost base, in light of the proposed function changes, to ensure it is efficiently delivering on its responsibilities and minimising costs to industry.

The government supports this recommendation.

The ACMA will develop a methodology for conducting the assessment of its cost base by December 2017.

27

To enable the communications sector to reach its full potential as an enabler of innovation and productivity, the government commence a coordinated program of regulatory reform to establish a contemporary communications regulatory framework.

The government supports this recommendation.

Reform of the first major piece of portfolio legislation is underway, with the Radiocommunications Act 1992 to be replaced with a new Radiocommunications Act.

Consultation on an Exposure Draft of the Radiocommunications Bill closed in July 2017. The Bill is expected to be introduced in 2018.

Media reforms passed the parliament on 17 October 2017.

1. Now known as the Bureau of Communications and Arts Research (on 17 March 2017, the government announced that the remit of the Department’s economic and statistical research unit was to be broadened to encompass the arts sector as well as communications).

Last updated: 13 November 2017