Up to 500,000 Australian families face receiving unwanted telemarketing calls at dinner time from May this year if they are removed from the Do Not Call register due to Labor's political games.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher MP has warned a political stunt by Labor will make it impossible for a Bill to solve this problem to pass the Senate in time.
"The Do Not Call Register was introduced by the Howard Government in 2007. It is hugely popular – with over 10 million numbers registered by Australians who want to be free of intrusive telemarketing calls.
"Because the law currently says that a number can only stay on the register for eight years before it has to be re-registered, then if we do not change the law, from May this year the numbers that were first registered eight years ago will start to drop off.
"The Abbott Government has a clear plan to fix this – with a Bill which will change the law so that once a number is added to the Do Not Call Register it stays there – you never need to take action to renew it.
"This Bill is designed to give ongoing protection to Australians – and remove red tape by getting rid of an unnecessary regulatory obligation to re-register your number.
"The Bill has already passed through the House of Representatives and been considered by a Senate Committee – and until yesterday it was on track to pass the Senate before May this year.
"But in an extraordinary political stunt, former Labor Broadband and Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy has now moved, and the Senate has agreed, to refer this Bill back to the Senate Committee for a second time.
"This now makes it impossible for the Bill to pass until June at the earliest – by which time some 500,000 numbers will have fallen off the Register.
"Thanks to Labor's political stunt – Aussie families who thought they were safe from intrusive telemarketing calls now face an onslaught of such calls to disrupt their dinner time and intrude on their time at home.
"Hundreds of thousands of people will face a requirement to re-register – or they can expect the phone to keep ringing until they do. This would be entirely unnecessary if it were not for this political stunt," Mr Fletcher said.
The Do Not Call register recently hit 10 million registered numbers – with an average of 3,600 numbers registered every day since it was introduced by the Coalition Government in 2007. Two-thirds of Australian homes with fixed-line phones have registered their numbers on the Do Not Call Register, along with 4.3 million mobile numbers.
Telemarketers that ignore the Do Not Call register face penalties of up to $340,000 a day. Since 2007, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has sent a total of 7,149 advisory and warning letters to businesses alerting them to their obligations.