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Telecom’s Regulation Backwards Step - ACT

Wednesday 20th Dec 2000

Minister of Communication, Paul Swain’s claim that the Government’s telecommunications response is ‘world leading’ is rubbish, said ACT Telecommunications spokesman Muriel Newman.

Communications Minister, Paul Swain, today released the Government’s response to the recent ministerial telecommunications inquiry. The inquiry, headed by Hugh Fletcher, looked at regulatory issues facing the telecommunications sector in New Zealand

“Today’s response takes us 20 years back. Other countries set up industry regulation agencies in the eighties, and only recently have come to respect New Zealand’s approach of generic competition law. Paul Swain’s description of the changes as “world leading” show a precarious grip on key industry issues.

“The government has set the scene for massive intervention. There will be widespread concern at the specified services listed in the report that present the opportunity to exponentially grow the regulatory umbrella. Telecom’s share price has declined relative to Telstra’s during the period of this inquiry. Today’s announcement has justified investor nervousness.

“The government’s true intentions are demonstrated by the severe curtailing of business’ rights to appeal regulator decisions. Although the regulator is a ‘last resort’ any unfair business practices or protracted delay can currently be easily remedied under the Commerce Act. Today’s announcement seriously undermines the Westminster ‘check and balance’ tradition.

“The paradox of this decision is that while there is fanatical concern over monopoly in this very competitive industry, this government has absolutely no concern over monopoly in areas like health, education and accident compensation.

“In the last decade, New Zealand has made dramatic progress in the area of telecommunications, embracing new technology and fostering a high degree of competition. Today’s announcement may seriously retard this progress,” said Muriel Newman.


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