Federal Register of Legislation - Australian Government

Primary content

A Bill for an Act to amend the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999, and for related purposes
Administered by: DCITA
For authoritative information on the progress of bills and on amendments proposed to them, please see the House of Representatives Votes and Proceedings, and the Journals of the Senate as available on the Parliament House website.
Registered 23 Feb 2005
Introduced HR 10 Feb 2005
Table of contents.

 

 

 

 

 

2004-2005

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

TELECOMMUNICATIONS (CONSUMER PROTECTION AND SERVICE STANDARDS) AMENDMENT (NATIONAL RELAY SERVICE) BILL 2005

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of the

Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts,

Senator the Hon. Helen Coonan)

 

 

TELECOMMUNICATIONS (CONSUMER PROTECTION AND SERVICE STANDARDS) AMENDMENT (NATIONAL RELAY SERVICE) BILL 2005

 

OUTLINE

 

The Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Amendment (National Relay Service) Bill 2005 (the Bill) amends the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999 (the Act) to allow the Commonwealth to contract with more than one person to deliver the National Relay Service (NRS).

 

The NRS is defined in subsection 95(1) of the Act as a service that:

 

(a)     provides persons who are deaf, or have a hearing and/or speech impairment, with access to a standard telephone service on terms, and in circumstances, that are comparable to those on which other Australians have access to a standard telephone service; and

 

(b)     is provided by a person under a contract with the Commonwealth.

 

In accordance with the current definition, the NRS must be delivered by a single provider under a single contract.  The Bill amends Part 3 of the Act to allow the Commonwealth the flexibility to contract with more than one person to provide the NRS, depending on what is considered the be the most effective and efficient way of providing the NRS.  This would enable the Commonwealth to contract multiple providers to each provide different components of the NRS or to contract with one provider as is currently provided for under the Act.  The ability to contract with more than one provider would allow the Commonwealth to test the market in future NRS tender processes and determine whether service quality, accountability and value for money would be improved by contracting separately for different elements of the NRS.  In addition, the ability to contract with more than one provider would enable a staged transition between service providers, in the event of a new provider winning a tender.  This would minimise risks about reliability and continuity of service for the NRS during any transition period.

 

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT STATEMENT

 

This Bill is not expected to have any financial impact on Commonwealth expenditure or revenue.

 


 

REGULATION IMPACT STATEMENT

 

Background

The NRS provides people who are deaf, or have a hearing and/or speech impairment, with access to a standard telephone service, using operators who ‘relay’ text messages to other telephone users.  This includes access to a text based emergency service.

The NRS is defined in subsection 95(1) of the Act as a service that:

(a) provides persons who are deaf, or who have a hearing and/or speech impairment, with access to a standard telephone service on terms, and in circumstances, that are comparable to those on which other Australians have access to a standard telephone service; and

(b) is provided by a person under a contract with the Commonwealth.

 

Under the Act, the NRS is funded by a levy on eligible telecommunications carriers.

 

The current NRS provider is Australian Communication Exchange (ACE) - a private, not-for-profit company with links to the deaf community sector.  The contract is managed by the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (the Department) on behalf of the Commonwealth.  The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) is responsible for monitoring the performance of the NRS provider.  ACE has twice successfully tendered to deliver the NRS since its inception in 1995.  The total cost of providing the NRS was $15.7 million in 2003-04.

 

In 2002 the Department commissioned a consultant, The Allen Consulting Group, to evaluate the NRS.  A summary of some key issues discussed in the evaluation consultancy report can be viewed on the Department’s website at http://www.dcita.gov.au/tel/access_for_people_with_disabilities/reports/summary_of_the_report_on_the_evaluation_of_the_national_relay_service_2003.  The report was provided to the Commonwealth Government, in part to assist in determining if the 1998 contract with ACE to deliver the NRS should be extended.  The evaluation included assessing the performance of ACE against the contractual requirements and performance standards, and identifying issues for consideration in future NRS contracts and tender processes.  The consultant undertook extensive consultation with ACE and with stakeholders, including consumers who regularly use the NRS.

 

In December 2002, the then Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator the Hon. Richard Alston, approved, in principle, exercising an option in the 1998 contract to extend the provision of the NRS by ACE until 30 June 2006.  This approval was on the basis that a tender process for the next NRS contract would commence early in 2005, to ensure adequate time for transitional arrangements in the event of a new provider winning the contract.

 

The tender process for the next NRS contract will aim to enhance accountability and transparency while ensuring value for money and a continued quality NRS service to consumers.

 

Further background information on the NRS is provided at the end of this Regulation Impact Statement.

 

Problem Identification

 

The problem is the lack of flexibility in the current legislative and contracting arrangements to enable consideration of options for the most effective and efficient way of providing the NRS.  Under the Act, the NRS must be delivered by a single provider.  The NRS Provider must deliver all aspects of the NRS, including the core relay service functions described above, and the Community Outreach program.  The Outreach program provides training and support to users, and raises awareness of the NRS among stakeholders and the broader community. 

 

The NRS contract provides for separate reporting and accountability arrangements for key functions of the NRS.  This approach is aimed at maximising transparency and cost effectiveness of the various NRS functions.  However, it is not possible to consider the option of contracting directly with different suppliers for discrete parts of the service.     

 

The last tender process for the NRS contract was in conducted in 1997-1998.  Since then, there have been significant developments in the telecommunications industry and call centre technology.  Testing the changing market is an important element in future NRS tender processes. 

 

The proposed amendments contained in the Bill would not result in any changes to arrangements during the life of the existing contract between ACE and the Commonwealth, which expires on 30 June 2006.  There is also no intention to create more than one NRS.  Any change to the service model for providing the NRS would be considered in the context of future tender processes and contractual arrangements.   

 

A further consideration is that, in the event of a new provider winning a tender, the Act would not allow for a staged transition between service providers (an overlap in service provision from the outgoing to the incoming provider).  This is because during such a transition period, there would be more than one provider.  There are concerns that service continuity and reliability could be unnecessarily at risk if there is no capacity to undertake a staged transition between separately contracted providers.

 

Objectives

 

The key objectives are to:

 

·        provide greater flexibility and choice for Government to have a range of options available for delivery of the NRS in the most efficient and effective way;

 

·        promote tender by allowing more flexible market testing in future NRS tender processes, if considered appropriate, to ensure that the price for providing the NRS is competitive and provides “value for money” for the Commonwealth; and

 

·        better support continuity and accountability of all elements of the NRS, so that consumers from the deaf, hearing and speech-impaired communities continue to receive a high quality and reliable service.

 

Discussion of Options

 

There are two options for achieving these objectives through a more flexible service model for the future provision of the NRS:

·        Option (1) – Administrative action; or

·        Option (2) – Minor amendments to the Act.

 

Option (1) – Administrative action

 

This approach involves no amendment to the Act.  Change could be implemented administratively through the structure of the new contract with the NRS Provider flowing from the next tender process.  One example of an administrative action would be for the NRS Provider to be required to subcontract another party to perform an agreed part of the NRS.  The administrative options available to the Government would remain constrained by the current requirement that there can only be one NRS provider.  

 

The advantage of this approach is that change can be achieved more easily through contractual arrangements with the NRS Provider than by going through the process of legislative amendment.  However, a significant disadvantage is the lessened opportunity for increasing transparency and accountability of service provision under the contract.  For example, if it was decided that it was value for money for part of the NRS to be provided under sub-contract to the NRS Provider, the Government could have less accountability and control over a services provided by a sub-contractor than it has in a direct contractual relationship with the NRS Provider.  

 

A further disadvantage is that it does not address the difficulty of staging a phased transition between providers if a new provider were to win the contract.

 

Option (2) – Minor amendments to the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999

 

This approach would involve minor amendments to the Act.  The amendments would provide increased flexibility in the choices available to the Government for the provision of the NRS when developing future tender processes.  They would also enable more flexible transitional arrangements between outgoing and incoming NRS Providers.

 

The advantage of such legislative amendments is that they will provide the Government with a broader range of options in considering the optimum service model for the NRS.  The Government would be able to adapt the service model more readily to reflect technological change, developments in the market and/or changing requirements of NRS users.  There would be the flexibility to consider using more than one provider to deliver the elements that make up the total NRS, if this was considered to be a more efficient and effective service model. 

 

The disadvantage of this approach is that, if it were decided that it was appropriate to have more than one NRS Provider delivering the NRS, there may be some perception of increased risk for stakeholders regarding the continuity and reliability of the NRS.  This impact could be mitigated by rigorous selection processes, and with appropriate contractual conditions covering continuity of service and performance for all NRS providers.

 

Impact on Current NRS Provider

 

With regard to the possible impact on the current provider, ACE would be treated in the same manner as other potential bidders for any future contract for provision of the NRS.  The current contract with ACE will not be affected.  If changes were made to the service provision model in future tenders, whether through administrative action or through enabling components of the service to be provided under separate contracts, there would be no advantage or disadvantage to ACE compared to other potential bidders.  Changes, if any, to the service provision model would flow from the contractual arrangements the Commonwealth entered into with a future provider or providers, based on the outcomes of tender processes.

 

Impact Analysis

 

Option (1) is not likely to have a significant regulatory impact on the key stakeholders and industry as it essentially reflects the arrangements that are currently in place.  The key stakeholders (that is, the deaf, hearing and speech impaired consumers who rely on the NRS for access to the telephony network) will not experience any direct impact as the NRS will continue to be delivered under a service model based on a sole provider.  There will be no impact on the current NRS provider, ACE, as the terms of the existing contract will be unaffected.  The NRS provider post 30 June 2006 would be engaged under the existing legislation, and changes to the service model could be negotiated in the context of a new contract, but within the existing regulatory framework.  Eligible telecommunications carriers who pay the quarterly NRS levy would be subject to unchanged levy arrangements as provided by the Act. 

 

However, there is the potential for this option to have a negative impact on some stakeholders in terms of outcomes.  The opportunity to explore the possibility of more effective and efficient ways of delivering the NRS using contracts with multiple providers would be lost.  There are limited choices available under Option (1), and the Government may be unable to effectively exercise options such as having aspects of the service subcontracted by the NRS Provider.  The practical difficulties associated with mandating multiple service providers under a single contract could have the effect of lessening the Government’s ability to test the market while ensuring a high quality service.

 

A further potential negative impact lies in the lack of flexibility when moving from one provider to another to use overlapping periods between providers, to ensure continuity and quality of service.

 

Option (2) has no inherent regulatory impact.  There is no requirement for the Government to offer more than one contract.  The legislative amendment in itself would have no impact unless the Government exercised the option of enabling components of the service to be provided under separate contracts.   If, after reviewing the service delivery model for the NRS, the Government decided to make available an option for tenders for separate parts of the service, this would be in the context of the contractual arrangements between the Government and the provider(s).

 

The tender process would be subject to the same accountability framework under Option (2) as under Option (1).  The legislative framework under which the NRS is established and operated would be unchanged.  Further, there would be no barrier to potential tenderers bidding for all components of the NRS, thereby becoming effectively a sole provider if they were successful.

 

If a decision were made to offer more than one contract in a future tender process, this decision could potentially impact on some NRS stakeholders - principally the users of the service, by generating concern about the continuity and quality of the NRS.  This impact could be mitigated by keeping all stakeholders informed during the tender process.  Option (2) also has the potential to allay stakeholder concerns about a smooth transition between suppliers in the event of a new provider winning a tender, by facilitating overlapping service provision for a period.

 

If changes were implemented and these new arrangements resulted in a more efficient and cost effective NRS, then all stakeholders, including industry and Government, would experience a positive impact.

 

Option (2) would have no impact on the current NRS Provider’s contractual arrangements with the Commonwealth.  It may be that exercising the option to offer separate contracts in future tender processes would result in greater competition for those contracts.  This could have a positive impact on business by opening up new opportunities for tenderers with appropriate skills to deliver particular aspects of the NRS.

 

There would be no regulatory impact on the eligible telecommunications carriers that pay the NRS Levy under Option (2).  The mechanisms for calculating, charging and collecting the Levy are unaffected.  If new contractual arrangements were decided upon, the potential impact on the amount of the levy paid by carriers would depend on what new NRS provision arrangements were put in place.  If those arrangements proved to be more cost effective, it may lead to a reduction in the levy burden.  Option (2) would deliver a positive regulatory impact for the Government, as it provides more options to enable better decision making on what is required to ensure a more flexible, responsive and cost effective NRS.   

 

 

Consultation

 

During the evaluation of the NRS undertaken by The Allen Consulting Group in 2002, the consultants had discussions with key stakeholders from the deaf and hearing and speech impaired communities, as well as the with Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts and the Australian Communications Authority (ACA).  These discussions included canvassing views on steps that could be taken in providing a more effective NRS. 

 

 

Regular stakeholder feedback on the performance of the NRS is provided to ACE and the Government during the biannual National Relay Service Consultative Committee (NRSCC) meetings, which are convened by the ACA.  The NRSCC consists of representatives of users of the NRS.  The Government’s development of existing and future service models takes this input into account.

 

The ACA also undertakes a program of visits to relevant community organisations throughout Australia, especially regional Australia, to discuss the NRS and other disability related issues.  Feedback from these consultations forms part of the ongoing management of the NRS.

 

Any consideration of options for the best service delivery model for the NRS in future would be made in the context of views and advice from stakeholders, and expert advice on relevant technical issues.

 

The NRS Provider is aware that the Australian Government is considering the NRS service model with the objective of continuing to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the NRS over the life of the current contract, and during future contracts.  ACE, along with any other potential NRS Providers, will be provided with information concerning the desired service model for the NRS during the tender process. 

 

Conclusion and Recommended Action

 

It is considered that Option (2) would provide the most effective and efficient way of providing the Government with flexibility in considering options for improving the delivery of the NRS in the context of future tender processes.  Option (1) is considered to be a less suitable option in that it does not provide scope to significantly change the current arrangements. 

 

There would be value in having options available to structure future tenders so as to maximise value for money, accountability and a high quality, reliable service for users. Option (2) is therefore the recommended option.

 

Implementation and Review

 

The current NRS contract expires on 30 June 2006 and the Government is aiming to issue a tender for the next contract in March/April 2005. 

 

In the event that the outcome of any future tender includes contracting with more than one provider, the effectiveness of this approach in terms of performance of the NRS and cost effectiveness will be measured through performance standards and indicators in the contracts, by ongoing consultation with stakeholders, through monitoring of the NRS’ performance by the ACA, and by formal evaluation of the NRS in the course of the Department’s program evaluation cycle.  If a staged transition between providers occurs following the tender process, the effectiveness of the transition will be closely monitored by the Department and by the ACA.  The ACA has a statutory responsibility to report to the Minister annually on the performance of the NRS. 


 

 

THE NATIONAL RELAY SERVICE (NRS)

 

History

 

The NRS commenced operation on 30 May 1995, operated by Australian Communication Exchange (ACE), following a competitive tender process. Until July 1998, the NRS was funded from the Commonwealth Budget.  A further tender process, again won by ACE, resulted in a five year contract which came into effect on 1 July 1998.  The Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts manages the contract on behalf of the Commonwealth.

 

The commencement of the 1998 contract coincided with the start of new funding arrangements under the Telecommunications Act 1997 and later the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999 (the Act).  Under the Act, the provision of the NRS is funded through a quarterly levy on eligible telecommunications carriers.  The Act provides that the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) is responsible for monitoring the performance of the NRS, and for preparing an annual report to the Minister for tabling in Parliament. 

 

Service Provision

 

ACE operates two call centres to provide the NRS – one in Brisbane and one in Melbourne, with dedicated text emergency points in both centres.  Speech to Speech Relay services are also provided through a dedicated point.  Consistent with its contractual obligations, ACE operates its centres to supply the core services of the NRS 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

 

Services of the NRS

 

Pursuant to the contract and the NRS Plan, the following relay services are provided 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in English.

 

·        Text to text;

·        Voice to text;

·        Text to voice;

·        Voice Carry Over (VCO) – this service primarily enables users with a hearing impairment (but not a speech impairment) to read a hearing person’s words on a text based device and use natural speech to respond.  Another aspect of this service is VCO to VCO, which enables two users with hearing, but not speech, impairment to use speech and read the responses on a text based device;

·        Hearing Carry Over (HCO) – this service enables users with a speech impairment to listen to another person on the telephone and type their responses on a text based communication device such as a TTY or computer with modem;

·        Text Emergency Service – the 106 Text Emergency Service enables users of text based communication devices to contact the emergency services usually reached through the 000 telephone number.  The NRS relays such calls directly to police, fire or ambulance services, and maintains separate infrastructure and staff to provide priority access for 106 calls; and

·        Speech to Speech Relay (SSR).  SSR enables a person with speech impairment to have a two way conversation on the telephone.  The relay operator listens to the call and repeats, if necessary, parts of the message that have not been understood.

 

The NRS also provides a Community Outreach program, which includes training and support for users, awareness-raising in the wider community, and development of resources to assist NRS users, their families and friends to maximise the benefits of the service.

 

Governance Arrangements and Availability of Information

 

The contract for provision of the NRS is between ACE and the Commonwealth, with the Commonwealth Government being represented by the Department.  The Department has overall responsibility for the contract, for making payments to the provider, and for the provision of policy advice to the Minister.

 

Under the Act, the provider must be required by the contract to produce service plans which include timetables for supply of the NRS and performance standards for the provider.  These are usually produced annually and referred to as the NRS Plan.  The NRS Plans are public documents which also form part of the contract.

 

The ACA is charged with monitoring the provider’s performance against the NRS Plan, and reporting each year to the Minister.  The Minister must table these reports in Parliament.

 

The ACA also collects and administers the NRS Levy, which is paid by eligible telecommunications carriers each quarter to fund the service.  In 2003-04, the total cost of providing the NRS was $15.7m.

 

Further information about the NRS is available from the Department’s website at http://www.dcita.gov.au/tel/access_for_people_with_disabilities/national_relay_service and at the ACE website at http://www.aceinfo.net.au/Services/NRS/index.html. 

 

 

 


 

ABBREVIATIONS

 

 

The following abbreviations are used in this explanatory memorandum:

 

 

Act:                                          Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service                                                       Standards) Act 1999

 

FFLA Bill:                                Financial Framework Legislation Amendment Bill 2004

 

NRS:                                        National Relay Service

 


 

 

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

Clause 1 – Short title

 

Clause 1 provides that the Bill, when enacted, may be cited as the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Amendment (National Relay Service) Act 2005 (‘the Act’).

 

Clause 2 – Commencement

 

Clause 2 provides that each provision of the Bill (specified in column 1 of the table in clause 2) will commence, or will be taken to have commenced, on the day or at the time specified in column 2 of the table in clause 2. 

 

Item 1 of the table in clause 2 provides that clauses 1 to 3 and anything in the Bill that is not covered in the table will commence on the day on which the Bill receives the Royal Assent.  Item 2 of the table provides that the amendments in Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Bill will also commence on the day on which the Bill receives the Royal Assent.

 

Item 3 of the table provides for the commencement of the amendment to subsection 102(3) of the Act contained in item 9 in Part 2 of Schedule 1 to the Bill.  The purpose of item 9 is to amend subsection 102(3) in the event that another proposed amendment to subsection 102(3) that is currently before the Parliament (in item 437 of Schedule 1 to the FFLA Bill) commences after the Bill receives the Royal Assent.  Item 3 of the table in clause 2 therefore provides that item 9 would commence immediately after the commencement of item 437 of Schedule 1 to the Financial Framework Legislation Amendment Act 2005.  However, item 9 would not commence if item 437 in Schedule 1 to the FFLA Bill commences before the day on which the Bill receives the Royal Assent.  This is because item 8 in Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Bill would make the necessary amendment to section 102 to change references to the ‘NRS provider’ and ‘NRS contract’ to ‘NRS providers’ and “NRS contracts’.  In addition, item 9 would not commence if item 437 does not commence.

 

Clause 3 – Schedule(s)

 

Clause 3 provides that each Act specified in a Schedule to the Bill is amended or repealed as set out in the Schedule concerned.  There is one Schedule to the Bill which provides for amendments to the Act.

 

Schedule 1 – Amendments relating to the National Relay Service

 

Part 1 – Amendments commencing on Royal Assent

 

Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999

 

Item 1 – Section 94 (definition of NRS contract)

 

This item would repeal the definition of “NRS contract” in section 94 of the Act and replace it with a new definition.  Currently, “NRS contract” is defined as “the contract under which the National Relay Service is provided”.  The proposed amendment would define the NRS as “a contract under which the whole, or a part, of the National Relay Service is provided”.  Item 1, in combination with the proposed amendments in items 2 and 3, would allow the Commonwealth to contract with more than one person to provide the NRS (i.e. different parts of the NRS could be provided by separate providers under contracts with the Commonwealth) if this is considered to be the most efficient and effective way to provide the NRS.  It would also enable a staged transition between service providers, in the event of a new provider winning a tender (payments could be made to both providers under their contracts during the transition period).

 

Item 2 – Section 94 (definition of NRS provider)

 

This item would repeal the definition of “NRS provider” in section 94 of the Act and replace it with a new definition.  Currently, “NRS provider” is defined as “the person who provides the National Relay Service”.  The proposed amendment would define “NRS provider” to mean “a person who provides the whole, or a part, of the National Relay Service”.  Item 2, in combination with the proposed amendments in items 1 and 3, would allow the Commonwealth to contract with more than one person to provide the NRS.

 

Item 3 – Paragraph 95(1)(b)

 

This item would repeal paragraph 95(1)(b) of the Act which partly defines the National Relay Service (or NRS).  Currently, paragraph 95(1)(b) provides that a reference in Part 3 of the  Act to the National Relay Service (or NRS) is a reference to a service that “is provided by a person under a contract with the Commonwealth”.  The proposed amendment would amend this part of the definition of the NRS to provide that it is a service that either:

 

(a)        is provided by a person under a contract with the Commonwealth                                              (proposed subparagraph 95(1)(b)(i)); or

(b)        is provided by 2 or more persons under contracts with the Commonwealth (with each of the persons providing part of the service) (proposed subparagraph 95(1)(b)(ii)).

 

The purpose of the proposed amendment is to provide the Commonwealth with flexibility in determining the most efficient and effective service model for the delivery of the NRS, and enable a staged transition between service providers in the event of a new provider winning a tender (payments could be made to both providers under their contracts during the transition period).

 

Item 4 – Subsection 95(2)

 

This item would amend subsection 95(2) of the Act which requires the NRS contract to provide for the NRS provider to prepare service plans for the NRS.  The effect of the proposed amendment would be that each NRS contract, where the Commonwealth has entered into contracts with more than one person (with each person providing part of the NRS), must provide for the relevant NRS provider to prepare service plans for so much of the NRS as is covered by their contract.  The proposed amendment would not alter the matters currently required to be included in a service plan under paragraphs 95(2)(a) and 95(2)(b).

 

Item 5 – Section 96

 

This item would amend section 96 of the Act, which requires both the predicted and actual costs of providing the NRS to be provided to the Minister, and published in the Gazette.  The proposed amendment would require each NRS provider, before the start of each levy quarter, to provide the Minister with a written estimate of the total cost of providing that part of the NRS that is set out in their NRS contract.  Where there is only one provider of the NRS, the provider would be required to give a written estimate of the total cost of providing the entire NRS.  Similarly, each NRS provider would also be required, on or before the 21st day of the third month after the end of each levy quarter, to provide the Minister with a written statement of the actual cost of providing the NRS (or part thereof) during the quarter. 

 

As is currently the case, the Minister would be required to cause the total amount of estimated costs and the total amount of actual costs so notified to be published in the Gazette.  The amendment would not require a breakdown of the costs specific to each NRS provider to be published.

 

Item 6 – Subsections 97(1) and (2)

 

This item is consequential to the proposed amendments in items 1 to 3 and would change the references to “the NRS provider” in subsections 97(1) and (2) of the Act to references to “each NRS provider”.

 

Item 7 – Subsection 100(2) (note)

 

This item is a minor technical amendment that would correct a citation error in the note to subsection 100(2) of the Act.  The reference to the “NRS Levy Imposition Act 1997” in the note should be a reference to the “NRS Levy Imposition Act 1998”.

 

Item 8 – Subsection 102(3)

 

Item 8 is consequential to the proposed amendments in items 1 to 3 and would change the reference to “the NRS provider under the NRS contract” in subsection 102(3) with a reference to “NRS providers under NRS contracts”.

 

Part 2 – Amendments consequential on item 437 of Schedule 1 to the Financial Framework Legislation Amendment Act 2005

 

Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999

 

Item 9 – Subsection 102(3)

 

Item 437 of Schedule 1 to the FFLA Bill, which is currently before the Parliament, would repeal section 102 of the Act and replace it with a new section that reflects amendments made to the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 by the Financial Management Legislation Amendment Act 1999 (see the Explanatory Memorandum to the FFLA Bill).  New proposed subsection 102(3), as drafted in item 437 of the FFLA Bill, would be substantially the same as current subsection 102(3) but it would replace the reference to the “NRS Reserve” in that subsection with a reference to the “NRS Account” to reflect its current status.  (The NRS Reserve was a component of the Reserved Money Fund.  The Financial Management Legislation Amendment Act 1999 abolished the Reserved Money Fund and converted components of that Fund to Special Accounts.  Special Accounts are an accounting entry forming part of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.  Transitional provisions of the Financial Management Legislation Amendment Act 1999 renamed the old components.  Accordingly the relevant component established by section 102 of the Act is now known as the NRS Account. However, it is proposed to amend this subsection to reflect the proposed amendments in items 1 to 3 in Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Bill that would enable the Commonwealth to contract with more than one person to provide the NRS (see item 8 in Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Bill which would change the reference to “the NRS provider under the NRS contract” in subsection 102(3) to a reference to “NRS provider under NRS contracts”). 

 

The purpose of item 9 is to ensure that the effect of the proposed amendment in item 8 of Part of Schedule 1 to the Bill would remain unaltered in the event that item 437 of Schedule 1 to the FFLA Bill were to commence after the Bill receives the Royal Assent.  Without such an amendment, the effect of item 8 of Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Bill would be reversed.  Item 9 is an identical amendment to that proposed in item 8 but it would not commence until immediately after item 437 in Schedule 1 to the FFLA Bill commences.  The effect of item 9 would be to change the reference to “the NRS provider under the NRS contract” (which would again be inserted into subsection 102(3) as a result of the commencement of item 437 in Schedule 1 to the FFLA Bill) immediately back to a reference to “NRS providers under NRS contracts”, consistent with the amendment that would have been previously made by item 8 in Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Bill.