The following is an extract from the weekly WIA broadcast:
“After some delay, last Tuesday the WIA and ACMA signed a contract that will now allow the ballot to proceed. On 1 August 2008 the WIA will be publishing on the WIA website a paper setting out the process for the ballot and the times for the ballot, as well a list of the available two letter call signs and a downloadable application form that must be completed if you want to participate in the ballot. A non refundable payment of $59.74 is required to participate in the ballot. That includes GST. That charge is reasonably related to the anticipated cost of conducting the ballot. The costs associated with the ballot are considerable and it would not be reasonable for the WIA and its members to meet them. The closing date for applications to participate in the ballot will be 29 August 2008. The ballot will be conducted by Friday 19 September and letters advising participants whether they have been successful or not will be posted by 24 September. Information on the ballot, and a general response to the submissions received in response to the invitation to comment will also be published in the August issue of Amateur Radio. So, if you are interested in participating in the ballot for two letter call signs check the WIA website on 1 August or make sure that you read the August issue of “Amateur Radio” magazine. “
So what does this all mean?
A few years back the government body responsible for amateur radio decided that they would reduce the number of categories of ham radio licences. In the process a lot of hams who didn’t have Morse code qualifications, like me, were now able to access 2 letter suffix call signs. Because these 2 letter call signs are limited there is large demand for them in VK2 and VK3. So the ACMA decided they would hold off issuing any 2 letter call signs until a fair system could be developed to distribute them.
So after a few years they have given it over to the WIA to conduct a ballot. And charge participants for the privilege.
So if I want to try and get a 2 letter call sign, that would help me heaps in contest and such, I need to pay $59.74 to participate in the ballot.
That means if I get picked in the ballot and get a 2 letter call sign I would then spend another $41 to vary my existing licence to the new 2 letter suffix or pay $61 to get a new licence and keep VK3ZPF as well.
Of course, if I miss out on the ballot I just end up $59.74 out of pocket.
Now I am sure there will be lots of hams lining up to pay $59.74 for the ballot but I think I will just stick with the call sign I have.