ACMA Proposes Cost Increases: WIA Costs Not Affected
A number of amateurs have drawn attention to the ACMA’s current review of certain of its costs and its proposal to increase some costs affecting amateurs. In particular, in general terms, it is proposed to increase the costs of Advanced Standard and Foundation exams or assessments conducted by the ACMA by 68% or 69%
Michael Owen - VK3KI
Under the Commonwealth Cost Recovery Guidelines the ACMA is bound to review these costs every 5 years and the last time this was done was in 2007. These cost increases will affect only the cost charged by the ACMA and not the cost charged by the WIA for providing the same service. Under its agreement with the WIA there are only two situations where the ACMA, rather than the WIA, will provide any of these exam or callsign services. One is where the ACMA has reasonable grounds for believing that a qualified operator will probably be unable to pass an examination, part of a process leading to the cancellation of a licence. The other situation is where the WIA ceases to provide the services. The WIA has no intention of giving up its functions in respect of the qualification of amateurs or the recommendation of callsigns.
Under its arrangements with the ACMA the WIA is bound by the Commonwealth Cost Recovery Guidelines, except that its costs are reviewed every year. The costs taken into account incurred by the WIA in setting its charges include all the direct and indirect costs, such as salaries referable to providing the services, paper, postage, phone costs, insurance, security costs referable to providing the services, storage of records, even the costs of printing the actual certificates of proficiency that the WIA issues.
Why are the WIA costs so much less than the ACMA costs? For the simple reason that so much is done on a voluntary basis. All the Assessors and Learning Facilitators, the WIA’s RTO and the many others involved one way or another give their time. Knowing how much it costs the WIA in fact to provide the services is very important in two ways. One is that it is not in the interests of amateur radio for the costs of becoming an amateur to be more than the minimum. The other is that if the WIA is charging less than the actual cost it incurs it means that its members are paying for the shortfall, which will ultimately lead to even further membership fee increases.
The cost of an amateur licence is made up of two components, the costs incurred by the ACMA in managing the system, and a tax component. In accordance with the Cost Recovery Guidelines , the ACMA is bound to increase the management cost component by the cost increases it has incurred. That is why it is proposed to increase the cost of amateur licences by $5.
As is the case for the WIA charges, the cost increases proposed by the ACMA depend on fact: has the cost it incurs to provide a service increased and if so by how much? The WIA believes that it is unlikely that the ACMA will be unable to demonstrate the cost increase it asserts. The WIA also believes that once again the value of the contribution of so many to the examination system that it manages for the ACMA is amply demonstrated.
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