Albanese Government sets expectations for two key Communications regulators

The Albanese Government has issued updated Statements of Expectation (SOE) to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the eSafety Commissioner to provide clarity about the Government’s priorities and expectations for how both regulators support Australians in an increasingly digitised world.

The communications, online and media sectors are integral to an inclusive, connected, productive, cohesive and creative society. Both regulators have a vital role supporting both Australians and industry, particularly as innovative technologies and platforms emerge and transform these sectors.

Ministerial Statements of Expectation provide greater clarity about government policies and objectives relevant to the regulator in line with its statutory objectives, and the priorities the Minister expects it to observe in conducting its operations.

The ACMA plays an important role in regulating communications and media services in Australia including setting and managing rules to protect consumers, investigating complaints and taking enforcement action where appropriate, and planning and managing spectrum allocation.

The updated SOE for ACMA articulates a clear expectation from the Albanese Government that it take a proactive regulatory approach, with particular expectations the regulator:

  • promote investment, innovation and the adoption of new and emerging technologies, while continuing to safeguard the interests of consumers and small businesses;
  • help protect Australians against scams over telecommunications services;
  • work with other government agencies to support reforms to the media regulatory framework, ensure telecommunications consumer safeguards are fit for purpose, improve the resilience of telecommunications networks to natural and cyber hazards, and address online misinformation and disinformation.

The updated SOE delivered to the eSafety Commissioner outlines the Government’s expectation that eSafety improve and promote online safety for Australians through:

  • the administration and enforcement of statutory schemes, and performance of other functions as prescribed under the Online Safety Act;
  • educational and awareness activities, including raising awareness of its resources and tools to support parents and vulnerable Australians; and
  • close collaboration with industry, law enforcement, the education sector and the ACMA.

The Government is asking eSafety to make best efforts to establish agreements with key organisations to encourage referrals to eSafety so that online harms can be addressed quickly.

Both regulators are also expected to contribute, where relevant, to the Albanese Government’s policy priorities with respect to First Nations Australians and meeting the Closing the Gap targets, the commitment to Net Zero by 2050, and improving transparency.

To find out more about the eSafety Commissioner’s Statement of Expectation visit: eSafety Commissioner Statement of Expectations | Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts

To find out more about the ACMA Statement of Expectation visit: Australian Communications and Media Authority Statement of expectations | Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP:

“The Albanese Government is committed to delivering good governance and putting the right policy and regulatory settings in place for Australia to thrive in an increasingly digitised world. The Statements of Expectation we have set for both the ACMA and eSafety Commissioner helps deliver on these important objectives.

The Expectations issued to the eSafety Commissioner will ensure her office remains committed to protecting Australians online through collaboration with industry, law enforcement and the education sector, and the administration of statutory schemes under the Online Safety Act.

Likewise, the ACMA has an important role to support industry and consumers in delivering and accessing essential communications services in an ever-changing media environment. The Statement underpins ACMA’s responsibility to be ahead of the game to ensure our regulatory landscape is fit-for-purpose, and to respond quickly and effectively as new issues arise.

I look forward to working closely with both regulators to ensure we have a robust system of regulation that supports both Australians and industry into the future”.