Tom Burton: is Turnbull just putting lipstick on the ACMA pig?


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Will the government’s review of the communications and media regulator, the ACMA, be just another cosmetic exercise, or will there be real reform that addresses Australia’s digital future?

When a government announces a root-and-branch review of a regulator, you would expect to see some big changes.

Except if the regulator happens to oversee the sensitive communications industry. The sector with big, noisy, well-connected media and telco companies, the sector where the government has its own $40 billion NBN play, and the sector which is the third largest revenue-raiser for the Commonwealth, thanks to burgeoning spectrum sales.

It was no surprise when Communication’s Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a departmental review of the Australian Communications and Media Authority on Friday.

The review had been mooted for several months, as the government considered the future of telco regulation — post its clean up of the NBN — and reform of patently outdated media laws. And as the government considers who to replace ACMA’s long serving chairman, Chris Chapman, when he steps down early next year.

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  • HRH Sir Snerk OBE

    Well Tom; Chris wasn’t there the whole time. We had an ABA person acting for the first 9 months. And what a mess that was!!
    My one comment would be that while the ACMA has shrunk in terms of staff over the past few years the executive has grown. It probably had 2 too many Band 1s and 2s.
    I have also noted the Department moving into the spectrum space a bit. Not always to the benefit of Australia in my view.