Loophole Used to Install Digital Billboards

The upgrade of 1860 payphones across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide are causing Councils concerns. In March the City of Melbourne refused 81 development applications by JCDecaux to upgrade Telstra payphones including new 75 inch (190cm) digital advertising screens that will display commercial advertising.

Chair of the City of Melbourne’s Planning portfolio Councillor Nicholas Reece said the signage is not low impact, would negatively impact heritage places, conflicts with Council’s urban design objectives, and would result in streetscape and amenity issues.

Last week, City of Sydney councilors passed a motion to band together councils across Australia over the installation of Wi-Fi and 5G equipment without permission from councils. Lord Mayor Clover Moore said “The City believes that Telstra is inappropriately exploiting its powers to install payphones under the Telecommunications Act to install large advertising panels together with 5G cells and other services without council guidance or permission. Any advertising billboards on public land have major impacts on streets and public spaces in our cities. That’s why it is vital that local residents can have a say in the approval of them through their local council.”

Under the Telecommunications (Low-impact Facilities) Determination 2018, planning approval is not required to install telecommunications infrastructure provided it meets the criteria for ‘low-impact facility’.

According to the Financial Review Telstra is looking to escalate an action from the City of Melbourne in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to a national level in the Federal Court so it can resolve the issues between it and local councils in one dispute rather than multiple disputes across the country.