Government abandons plan for Do Not Call Register for business numbers

Federal telecommunications minister Stephen Conroy has quietly backed down from his plans to extend the Do Not Call Register to business numbers following a fight by small business and marketing industry lobby groups.

The announcement of the Government’s backflip was made on Friday and largely lost in the hype surrounding the release of the Henry Tax Review.

Conroy’s decision was contained in a press release trumpeting the decision to extend the period for which households can register on the DNCR from the current level of three years to a proposed period of five years.

“To facilitate the quick passage of these amendments, the Government will not proceed with the proposal to extend the Register to include business numbers in the current legislation,” it said in a statement.

“Stakeholders, including the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia, raised concerns that the inclusion of business numbers would impede legitimate business communications.”

The news is a huge victory for Rob Edwards, chief executive of the Australian Direct Marketing Association, who had warned compliance costs associated with the extension of the register would be as high as $71-$108 million in the first year of operation, and then $47-$87 million in each subsequent year.

“I think it took some doing but at the end of the day the Government has seen sense in this and seen the damage it would have had on business,” Edwards told SmartCompany this morning.

“The key was really getting the Council of Small Business of Australia involved. They have done a terrific job.”

“Now business can get back to doing what they are supposed to be doing.”

While Conroy said in a statement that the Government “is keeping an open mind on this issue and intends to do further research and consultation with stakeholders”, Edwards feels the battle is won.

Radisich welcomed Conroy’s decision.

“Given that 95% of Australian businesses are small, it makes sense that they should be allowed to freely interact with each other, and with big business, to promote their goods and services without being hindered by excessive regulation,” she said in statement.

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