Well over a year after the Minister for Communications, Mitch Fifield, asked his Department to begin work on a communications policy roadmap, there’s still no sign of it.
In response to Questions on Notice just released, the Department of Communications and the Arts confirmed the roadmap is still ‘under development’; that ‘discussions with the Minister continue’; and the roadmap hasn’t even been referred to the ACMA for consideration (Question No. 15).
As his dealings with Senator Parry on citizenship attest, Minister Fifield’s discussions don’t achieve all that much, so we won’t hold our breath.
It is now more than six years since the Australian Communications and Media Authority first released the Broken Concepts report, outlining the legislative concepts that are broken or under strain as a result of convergence, and there’s still no indication that the Turnbull Government is prepared to grapple with them.
When asked what he is doing to address the many broken concepts that persist in Australian communications law and regulation, during Senate Estimates in October, the Minister said he’d be happy to take that on notice, even offering to provide a point-by-point response to the Broken Concepts document.
His response, over a month later, was to ask the Department (Question No. 132).
On the eve of 2018, a good half of the bills in the Communications Portfolio, now before the Parliament, have been proposed by minority parties, rather than the Government.
It is clear that the Turnbull Government has no vision for communications in Australia and no roadmap to guide the sector, the Department or the ACMA.
Just as 12 years of the Howard Government saw Australia become a broadband backwater, so too will the inaction of the Turnbull Government see the world pass Australia by – to the detriment of consumers and the economy.