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Critics miss the point, says researcher

26 September 2006

Critics miss the point, says researcher

A Victoria University researcher whose submission on the Telecommunications Amendment Bill has been criticised by lobbyists says her critics have missed the point.

Bronwyn Howell, Research Fellow in the Institute for the Study of Competition & Regulation at Victoria, says her submission was clearly intended as a critique of the many weaknesses in the Ministry of Economic Development analysis.

“As such, it was never meant to be a detailed academic analysis of the relationship between broadband penetration and unbundling. So to criticise my work for not being such an analysis completely misses the point. Nowhere do my critics produce evidence from New Zealand data that supports the Ministry’s claims that competition issues resolvable by local loop unbundling are the most significant factor in New Zealand's relative performance. In this, they appear to agree with me.”

Ms Howell says her citations from the literature were designed to convey a sense of the debate around issues that are assumed by Ministry to be clear-cut.

“They were not designed to provide a survey of the literature itself. To criticise my work for not being of that kind again misses the point. That such confusion exists is perhaps not surprising: one critic admits he has not even read the original Ministry work, and thus takes me to task for not bringing up a variety of factors that are not in dispute in the New Zealand context.”

Ms Howell says the critics simply ignore most of the points made in her submission, while misinterpreting those they chose to address.

“In particular, they haven’t provided any support for the claims of New Zealand policy-makers that unbundling has not impeded investment in markets where the policy is in place, despite the academic literature that suggests such outcomes are likely to occur.

“Professor Glenn Boyle, the Institute’s Executive Director, has invited John Small and myself to participate in a public debate of these and related issues. I look forward to the opportunity.”


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