At lightning speed, following on a 4 April announcement, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, has introduced Do Not Call Register legislation.

Unfortunately for small businesses, they are prohibited under the proposed legislation from joining the register. Only private individuals will be able to sign up to the Register, which will make it illegal for telemarketers to solicit them. There will be no charge for individuals wishing to be listed on the Register. Small businesses, including those run by individuals from their homes, will not be eligible.

The legislation has been proposed in the form of the Do Not Call Register Bill 2006 and the Do Not Call Register (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2006. The Australian Media & Communications Authority will be responsible for establishing the Register and enforcing the legislation.

The service, which is estimated will cost $33 million to set up, will be put out to tender once the legislation is adopted.

Companies with whom consumers have existing relationships will be exempt from the legislation, as will charities and other organisations with public interest aims.