We've been in Australia long enough to know
some of the indications, that a Commonwealth
(of Australia) Election is about to be called.
Eg, in October 2012 (ie, 4 or 5 months before
the Aussie Prime Minister called an Election
for Sep 14th, 2013)... the Gov't announced,
- -all- Australian -commercial- TV broadcasters
would have their License Fees -HALVED- per-
manently (annual cost of -millions- of AU $'s)
In a land where Hams pay over AU $63 / year
for their Amateur Radio Licenses, that halving
seemed like a -huge- slap in AU's Hams faces.
(Some months before, New Zealand's Hams
won the privilege of higher transmitter power,
like that, which US Hams have enjoyed for
yonks... from way before I were one, myself.
When "Australia's FCC" noticed such a -near-
neighbor displaying renewed faith in & support
for -its- [presumably higher-class] Amateurs,
AU's ACMA was surprisingly quick to act...
But the Aussie Hams were (as above) slapped
in the face by a new ACMA requirement, that
they Apply - in writing - AND pay a fee - just
over -half- the cost excessive cost of a year's
Ham license term - to -request- to be included
in a [time-limited] -trial- of permitting Aussie
Hams to use higher transmitter power....
In recent memory (ie, shortly after it was "tem-
porarily borrowed" for some weeks of -noisy-
car-racing, in the streets of several Australian
- Aussie Hams lost 10 MHz of their 70cm band;
by edict of ACMA, the 420 - 430 MHz segment
of our 70cm band was removed from the Aussie
Amateur Service - this time permanently.
("Let's start by -borrowing- that segment, and
see if the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA)
- ARRL's counterpart - pushes back," I guess.
From all I saw, WIA never really pushed-back,
not before the "loan" period nor when the loan
became a "theft."
This was a big mistake, pre-dating the insulting
"Beg & Pay" for high power, after all the higher-
class NZ Amateur Licensees got it cost-free.)
Very recently, we were told that ACMA was
sending "Mark" one of its radio inspectors
to speak at larger metropolitan Ham Clubs,
across South Australia; in fact, two (2) ACMA
radio inspectors were sent to make presenta-
tions (one underling, and a more senior one).
Before the on-site presentations, word went
around - in larger clubs & smaller ones - that
anyone wanting to ask a question, of ACMA's
radio inspectors, would have to submit them,
in advance, for presentation to the speaker.
Funny, isn't it? I could just line-up, at a very
well attended (250+ in a large church on the
Adelaide Uni campus) Ideas Festival, for a
chance to ask my question or put an alternate
opinion to a panel, at any of the cost-free talks.
But - in a smaller assembly of my fellow Radio
Club members - I would only have the chance
to hand in a card or send an eMail, presumably
to have my question scrutinized by Club Offi-
cers... only maybe to have it -read- (with -less-
passion than I would express on an issue) and,
in part, -mispronounced- by an such an officer.
Our voices would -not- be heard by Mark & Co.
Well, the radio inspectors brought an hour-long
PowerPoint presentation. Among other topics
was a "reading of the riot act" about [Chinese]
It seems, that ACMA is against radios that can
transmit -outside- Ham bands. So, while it may
still be fine for licensed Hams to own, restore &
operate -military- radios with that capability, a
more recent, affordable import [from China] is
a bird of another feather.
Why does ACMA have the $$'s to - on the one
hand - HALVE License Fees of -commercial- TV
stations AND to send pairs of Canberra bureau
crats around AU, to pressure Hams on trivia,
that we should be able to manage ourselves?
And - if there's so much $$ around - when can
Aussie Ham's expect to be advised that -our-
License Fees will be -permanently- halved, or
- following Canada's recent example - waived?
Why would WIA be so slow to decide to push-
back or present some arguments FOR cost-free
Ham licenses, with high power included, and
a much-overdue OK for phone-interconnects...
...& AGAINST a car-racing's ACMA-supported
"borrowing" / repossessing of 10 MHz of 70cm?
Now, South Australians have some highly skilled
Hams, and - with the influx of cashed-up folks,
from interstate, as prices elsewhere soared - the
composition of SA Hams has changed a bit.
Hopefully, our newcomers have brought some
much-needed "chutzpah" to bolster local sup-
plies, so we will push WIA to start thinking
afresh about such Ham-friendly changes.
Still, SA's near-ancient tradition of -queuing-
- after each week's WIA Broadcast - for up to
10 or 15 minutes - for the chance to (only):
check-in and thank the relay operator, on the
frequency, "for the Broadcast" continues; it
seems to be encouraged, eg, by WIA, whose
relay operators stay longer at their rigs and
desks - each week - to make a list of check-
ins' callsigns, "to hand up" to... whom? :-/
A much better use of those check-in trans-
missions might be to have "straw-poles" on
issues (& use lists of supporters' callsigns -
with their holders' permission - as signatories
of virtual petitions, to WIA, local gov't councils,
maybe even ACMA, itself...) to gather & focus
Radio Hams' opinions, rather than let them
waste time queuing for the chance to sheep-
ishly "thank" the WIA Relay Operator "for
(Local gov't councils have been too quick to
declare Ham antenna structures unlawful or
to deny applicants' applications for towers.)
An opportunity for grass-roots Democracy (or,
at least, a single-cycle round-table, even) lost,
at least until the next generation of Hams ar-
rives & tires of queuing-to-thank, I hope. ;-)
I wonder how it is that (in Australian history)
early CBers in AU "won" cost-free Class Licens-
ing, ie, by simply -refusing- (en masse) to pay
their generation's excessive [transmitter-]
...while Aussie Hams let their national repre-
sentative organisation - the WIA - "roll-over
& play dead," -rather- than pushing-back &
getting & keeping much more for AU's Ham
Radio community that it has today.
Can "training" generations of Hams (as in SA)
to queue-to-thank the week's WIA commitiee-
member "for the Broadcast" be reducing the
level of -chutzpah- in South Aussie Hams?
We've never had "phone interconnect" (a.k.a.
phone patching) privileges, like other radio
clubs enjoy; one such Club even features
its phone interconnection service, eg, on its
"VKS737: The Australian HF Radio &
Radio-Telephone Network" eg at:
(Two such clubs license - presumably on a
shared basis - the same HF channels, for
their respective members' use; sadly, last
I heard, inter-club member comms was for-
bidden, except, of course, in emergencies.)
There are many opportunities to IMPROVE
Ham Radio & some non-Ham radio clubs,
IMO. I think it's time to apply a fair-minded:
"Think Outside the Box" & "Fix Traditions"
...just like those, who use the Internet do.
"The -Only- Limitations are
the Ones you Take with You."