Minister Abel has been in consultation with the Minister responsible for Communications, Information Technology and Energy, Sam Basil who has received advice from NICTA on the registration deadline extension.
“Minister Basil and I have considered the issues surrounding the SIM Card Registration Regulation, and I am fully aware of the implications of registration deadline,” the Acting Prime Minister said.
“The extension to 23 January 2018 will minimise the potential for disruptions to phone users while ensuring network security is enhanced.
“Mobile phones are now an essential part of our daily lives, for our jobs, with our families and for contacting emergency services.
“The Attorney General, Hon Davis Steven MP has advised that the Government is further mindful of cases filed by citizens in the National Court, raising the issue of the reasonableness of the registration deadline on citizens in remote and rural areas.
“The Government will continue to maintain consultation with communities in remote and rural areas to enact solutions so that people are not inconvenienced.
“We must do what we can to ensure people have access to the network around the country, while at the same time ensuring security on the network is enforced.
“It is a sad fact of life that criminals and terrorists around the world use mobile phone networks to plan and carry out their activities.
“By registering every phone SIM card in the country, we are working to global standards that prevent the use of mobile phone networks by terrorists and other criminals.
“We are hosting APEC through 2018 and have to ensure security is at the highest levels in all areas.”
The Acting Prime Minister said it is concerning that an extension has been sought when the legislated requirement for having all SIM cards has been well known.
“The national government fully appreciates that NICTA has given reasonable time for compliance and is looking forward for the completion of this process.
“Mobile phone network providers have had ample time to engage with their consumers and register them.
“When unregistered phones are cut off, not only will the customers be inconvenienced, but these companies will lose millions of Kina in revenue, so they must endeavor to register all their customers.
“I thank members of the public and businesses for their understanding on this important matter that is in the national interest.”