Parliamentary committee shuns ‘low-impact’ amendments

14 May 2012

A parliamentary committee investigating tighter planning restrictions relating to mobile base stations has rejected former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown’s proposed changes to telecoms legislation, ZDNet reports. The mooted ‘Telecommunications Amendment (Mobile Phone Towers) 2011 Bill’ would have subjected so-called ‘low-impact’ mobile phone facilities, such as antennae, to government planning laws. In addition, the new legislation would have also required tower owners to consult with any landowners within 500m of the proposed site. Further, there would need to be a 200m distance to the nearest school or hospital, and mobile carriers would have had to lodge a five-year plan with councils to say where they wanted to install facilities going forward. The decision means that veteran politician Brown, who will retire from parliament in June, has been unsuccessful in one of his last throws of the political dice.

In a parliamentary report published on Friday, committee chair Doug Cameron said that while the committee is sympathetic to concerns from communities about telecoms infrastructure being deployed in their areas, operators have already made significant improvements relating to the industry’s code of conduct. Ultimately, Cameron added, the costs associated with increasing the amount of consultation would be impractical, and not effectively resolve the concerns it seeks to address.