Senate Inquiry On Cell Phone Safety

Democrats Deliver Senate Inquiry On Mobile Phones
Senator Lyn Allison
Australian Democrats Spokesperson on Telecommunications
December 9, 1999

The Senate late yesterday agreed to a Senate inquiry into electro-magnetic emissions (EME), particularly from mobile phones.

Democrats Telecommunications spokesperson, Senator Allison successfully moved to refer the matter to the Senate Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee, which she chairs. The inquiry will start in March
2000 and report in October that year. Senator Lyn Allison said the inquiry will be a comprehensive review of:
* the latest research into public health risks of exposure to EME
* progress on the Federal Government’s $4.5 million research fund.
* the role of government and industry in standard setting.

Senator Allison said the inquiry is necessary because of the Federal Government’s ongoing failure to ensure that public health issues are properly considered in standard setting for mobile phone emissions. The Minister for Communications and the industry refuse to acknowledge what most Australians know intuitively; that it is not just the heat from mobile phones that is a potential health risk.

“The huge uptake of hands-6.00 devices show that people want to limit the risks to their health and many do so because they have already experienced alarming symptoms from their phone use,” Senator Allison said.

“Telstra’s own research on mice showed a much higher rate of lymphoma in the group exposed to mobile phone frequencies – a study which was ridiculed by Minister Richard Alston at the time. Other studies show that human cells, including DNA, are damaged by
exposure to mobile phone EME.”

She noted that the Government, through the Australian Communications Authority, disbanded the Standards Committee earlier this year when it would not agree to relax standards for mobile phone emissions and handed this responsibility to ARPANSA.

“Under the new arrangement, the Senate needs to be assured that occupational health and safety matters will be considered in standard setting. The CSIRO has remained staunchly opposed to relaxing standards, arguing that the research which already
indicates a link between EME and cancer, suggests that no further relaxation should occur.”

“This will also be an opportunity for the Senate to scrutinise the expenditure of the Commonwealth’s $4.5 million fund for research into and information on EME and to look at the latest research in Australia and overseas,” Senator Allison concluded.

Contacts: Justin O’Brien on 0411 473 697, Senator Lyn Allison 0407 691 512

Inquiry into electromagnetic emissions:

That the following matters be referred to the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee for inquiry (to commence not before 31 March 2000) and report by 31 October 2000:

(a) an examination of the allocation of funding from the Commonwealth’s $4.5 million fund for electro-magnetic radiation research and public information;

(b) a review of current Australian and International research into electro-magnetic radiation and its effects as it applies to telecommunications equipment, including but not limited to, mobile telephones;

(c) an examination of the current Australian Interim Standard [AS/NZS 2772.1 (Int): 1998], as it applies to telecommunications;

(d) an examination of efforts to set an Australian Standard dealing with electro-magnetic emissions;

(e) an examination of the merits of the transfer of the responsibility for setting a new Australian standard for electro-magnetic emissions to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.