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Proposed Oz mobile 'tower ban’ stalls

House committee rejects bill

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Independent federal parliamentarian Andrew Wilkie has lost his bid to regulate the placement and expansion of “low impact” mobile phone facilities, with a House of Representatives committee unanimously rejecting his bill.

Wilkie’s legislation, which purported to improve community consultation over low impact mobile facilities, has stalled in the face of industry opposition and confusion over its intent and impact.

Many of the individuals who offered submissions supporting the law didn’t understand what kind of facilities it intended to regulate, the bipartisan House of Representatives Committee’s report says. Many submissions saw the law as regulating freestanding towers (which are regulated by local councils’ planning powers); in fact, the law focused on facilities that aren’t currently subject to local planning approvals.

The mobiles industry had raised concerns that the legislation would make network expansion vastly more difficult and expensive, and might reduce the value of spectrum that the government intends to put on sale as Australia completes its move to digital TV in 2013.

Similar legislation remains before the Senate, however. Introduced into the upper chamber by The Greens, that legislation is the subject of a current Senate inquiry, with a public hearing to be held on April 12. That inquiry is due to make its report in May. ®

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