Federal Government Chokes Telemarketers

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Fed up with telemarketers? Then this could be the best news you’ve heard all day. The Federal Government announced today that a national, legislated ‘Do Not Call’ register will be created by 2007 to allow consumers to opt out of receiving nuisance telemarketing calls.

The service will be free for individuals and small business owners, with telemarketers contributing to the cost for running the scheme, by paying subscription fees to access the register.

“The number of unsolicited calls in Australia has grown significantly in recent years, and has led to rising community concerns about the inconvenience and intrusiveness of telemarketing,” Minister for Communications, Senator Helen Coonan said.

Once a telephone number is registered, it will be prohibited for telemarketers to call the number. Enforcement options, including warnings, fines, formal directions and financial penalties will be set in place.

The register will not only apply to telemarketers operating within Australia, but also overseas telemarketers who represent Australian companies. The legislation will also create minimum standards for the behaviour of telemarketers, including permitted calling hours, minimum information requirements and termination of calls.

“However, in recognition of the need for some organisations with underlying public interest objectives to make unsolicited calls, a limited range of exemptions will apply, for example, to charity groups and people undertaking social research. Exemptions will also apply to companies with an existing business relationship with an individual, for example with existing accounts or contracts,” Senator Coonan said.
 
The Australian Government has committed $17.2 million out of the $33 million the register will cost to set up. The remainder of the costs will be met by industry.

“Based on international experience the Government expects that there will be one million registrations in the first week of operation and four million after the register’s first year,” the Senator said.

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