The communications watchdog has refused to investigate alleged breaches of telecommunications law by Telstra in relation to the installation of 5G technology in Mullumbimby.
In response to a complaint from anti-5G campaigners who detailed a raft of alleged breaches, the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA) said it had made ‘preliminary enquiries’ and concluded that this is ‘not a matter that the ACMA should investigate’.
‘During our enquiries we sought, and obtained, information from Telstra about their compliance with the Deployment Code,’ ACMA Telecommunications Engineer, Andrew Sabo, said in an email to anti-5G group Northern Rivers for Safe Technology.
‘We used this information as the basis upon which we assessed their compliance in relation to their proposed upgrade at this site.’
The response is a slap in the face for the members of Northern Rivers for Safe Technology who have been fighting to stop 5G being installed on Telstra’s tower at 95 Dalley Street.
They have maintained 24/7 monitoring of the site for the past 15 weeks in a bid to ensure that Telstra does not undertake the installation when no one is looking.
In an extended complaint to the watchdog they set out a range of alleged breaches of the Deployment Code, the key law relating to the installation of telecommunications infrastructure.
They alleged that the limited pubic notification published by Telstra, failed to provide an adequate description of the proposed facility.
‘It is Telstra’s usual practice, when proposing to upgrade towers to 5G, to state in their public notification that “5G antennas” will be installed,’ the complaint said.
‘However, in this instance, “5G” is notably absent from the description of the proposed works.’
The campaigners further alleged that Telstra failed to provide accurate contact details for public feedback.
‘The public notice provided the following address for submissions: PO Box 2777, Brisbane, QLD, 4001.’
Petitions returned by Telstra unopened
‘During the submissions period, we sent a parcel of 268 signed petitions to that address. Although Australia Post’s tracking shows the parcel was delivered to that PO Box address, it was subsequently Returned to Sender.
‘If our parcel was returned to sender, how many other community submissions that were sent to this address were not received by Telstra?’
There were a range of other complaints, including that the telco ignored its obligation to consider comments received from the community, and that they failed to respond to reasonable requests for information.
But ACMA declined to accept any of the complaints as reasonable grounds to conduct a detailed investigation.
‘We do not agree that the ACMA’s assessment was in any way biased or unreasonable and maintain that all appropriate regulatory functions have been conducted in the appropriate manner,’ Mr Sabo said.
He further indicated that the watchdog’s decision was not subject to judicial review or internal reconsideration.
Rinat Strahlhofer from Northern Rivers for Safe Technology said the fact that ACMA was set to collect $5 billion next year from the sale of wireless licences to telcos, while at the same time holding responsibility for regulating the same companies, represented a conflict of interest.
‘Locals aren’t even being considered by ACMA,’ Ms Strahlhofer said.
‘So many customers and businesses have requested access to safer, more secure, fibre-optic hardwired connections, and are being ignored. ACMA are the Telco regulators and can’t even do their job properly due to their conflict of interest.’