Inquiry Divided On Mobile Phone Hazard
May 04, 2001
phone users should pay a $5 levy each year to raise money for research into
whether the phones emit harmful radiation, the Australian Democrats said
The recommendation was contained in a sharply divided report released today
on the possible harmful effects of radiation from mobile phones.
The report left users little wiser on the contentious and much-studied
Although the Senate inquiry found no conclusive evidence as to health
effects, its chairwoman was adamant more research was needed and also
scolded the telecommunications industry for having little interest in
potential health risks.
Democrats Senator Lyn Allison called for all mobile phone users to be hit
with the $5 annual levy to raise $40 million for research on the issue.
She said the year-long inquiry had shown that Australian standards, based on
the heat output of mobile phones, were inadequate.
There was a growing body of evidence that even low-level radiation, with
virtually no heat output, could change and damage biological systems.
But Senator Allison's report failed to gain the support of either the
government or the opposition.
Liberal Senator John Tierney, the inquiry's deputy chairman, said Senator
Allison's report was little more than a scare campaign.
"We take the view, in line with the internationally accepted position, there
is no conclusive evidence at this stage the level of exposure received from
mobile phones of any health effects," he said.
"This inquiry has been a complete waste of time.
"The reality is, there is no conclusive evidence that using mobile phones
has any effect that is negative."
Senator Allison urged that the bulk of proposed Australian research be
handled by the CSIRO.
She also criticised the telecommunications industry for having little
inclination to look into safety in the technology.
"The telecommunications industry has shown no interest in developing safer
mobile phone or transmitter technology,"
"It has shown no interest in allowing people to make a choice which might
minimise the health risk and it continues to promote mobile phones to
children who are likely to be more vulnerable than the rest of the
The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) said the
findings should reassure the public.
"The inquiry found no substantiated scientific evidence of health effects
from mobile phones and their base stations that comply with strict safety
guidelines," AMTA chief executive Ross Monaghan said in a statement.
"This is consistent with other recent government and expert reviews
internationally, including the landmark review completed by the World Health
Organisation last year."
Mr Monaghan said AMTA supported the continuation of the National Health and
Medical Research Council research program, paid for by an industry levy, but
did not support an additional, separate tax on mobile phone users.