Tension on towers
Australian IT News
MAY 17, 2005
THE federal Government may develop new industry rules to ease community concerns about mobile phone towers.
Communications Minister Helen Coonan would consider measures to ease tensions between carriers and resident groups, a spokeswoman said.
Legislative changes had been ruled out, but Senator Coonan was prepared to consider “some sort of non-legislative measures that might allay some concerns, whether by regulation or through industry self-regulation”, the spokeswoman said.
Legal action between carriers and local councils over tower developments reached a climax last month when Hutchison Australia appealed to the High Court to overturn a South Australian Supreme Court decision in favour of an Adelaide council.
Council and community groups say federal telecommunications laws allowing carriers to build low-impact facilities on community infrastructure without development approval rob them of property rights.
Carriers say they’re treading a fine line trying to balance consumer demand for mobile services against community concerns about towers.
Senator Coonan has invited a community representative body, the Tower Sanity Alliance, to discuss its concerns with government and telecommunications industry representatives in Sydney later this year.
The alliance is dissatisfied with the way Senator Coonan is handling the matter.
Representing about 50 communities, the alliance said her unwillingness to consider legislative changes indicated she wasn’t taking the matter seriously.
“Communities are outraged that the carriers have taken over people’s property rights without any redress whatsoever,” Alliance spokesman Tony Palanca said.
The meeting was a Government attempt to deflect public scrutiny, he said.
“I’m concerned that it’s now so narrow. It’s to keep a muzzle on us more than achieve anything substantial,” Mr Palanca said.
According to the Department of Communications, Senator Coonan was trying to act as a facilitator to help both sides achieve a constructive outcome.