Emerging Best Practice in Do Not Call Registers (8 September 2009)

2.1. Australia

Australia established a National Do Not Call Register in 2006. It is administered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). The register is established by Commonwealth legislation.[1]

The register currently includes fixed lines, satellite numbers, VOIP numbers and mobile phone numbers used for private or domestic purposes. More than 3.6 million numbers have been registered.[2]

The register utilises ‘list washing’ to remove numbers from marketing campaigns. Marketing organisations send their target lists to the register and numbers are removed for a small fee. This approach protects the privacy of individuals on the register and the integrity of the list.

The regulator has been active in enforcing the Do Not Call legislation. ACMA has taken a number of high profile enforcement actions and received substantial fines and settlements from a number of marketers. For example, Telstra paid a $100,000 fine for calling numbers on the register in August 2009.[3]

The Australian Do Not Call Register is considered a success. It has attracted a large number of registered users, especially when compared to the previous self-regulatory do not call list managed by the Australian Direct Marketing Association (ADMA). That list had a very small number of registrations and ADMA undertook virtually no enforcement action – it was the subject of widespread community dissatisfaction.[4]

One outstanding issue with the Australian approach is that registration on the Do Not Call Register only lasts 3 years. Consumers will be forced to renew their membership after this date – a step that is widely viewed as unnecessary.

In 2008 the Australian Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) released a discussion paper considering the expansion of the Do Not Call Register.[5] As part of the discussion paper the DBCDE looked at two important improvements to the Australian register.

The first option is to make small business numbers registrable. The paper considered the benefits to the community including the money and time involved with employees taking unwanted telemarketing calls that could be saved. The paper also highlighted the benefits for the telemarketing industry in removing those organisations less receptive and therefore less likely to purchase goods or services from telemarketers. By widening the scope of the register, the success rate per call would be increased.

The second option is to include fax lines on the register. This would be a way of minimising the waste of resources such as toner and paper for businesses as well as stopping fax machines being occupied with telemarketing.

Both of these options were strongly opposed by telemarketers, but they received widespread community support. In May 2009 the Government announced that the expansion would proceed, and allocated additional funds in the Budget.[6] However, the legislation to expand the operation of the register has not yet been submitted to Parliament. It is expected that the expansion will now take place in early 2010.

[1] Do Not Call Register Act 2006 (Australian Commonwealth), <$file/0882006.pdf>.

[2] Number of registrations at August 2009, <>.

[3] See; <>.

[4] See for example the numerous submissions to the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) regarding the ADMA Code of Conduct, <>.

[5] Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Discussion Paper: Eligibility Requirements for registration on the Do Not Call Register, August 2008, <>.

[6] See, <>.