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

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as the government considered the future of telco regulation — post its clean up of the NBN — and reform of patently outdated media laws.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.