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Bill Comes With Costly Commissioner

9 May 2001

The Government's Telecommunications Bill comes with an annual cost of $2.6 million in bureaucracy with the setting up of a Commissioner, despite the Fletcher inquiry report estimating the cost at $1.5 million, National's Communications spokesperson Alec Neill said today.

"This blow-out of over $1 million has happened before the first employee has even been engaged. What extra costs can we expect down the track?

Mr Neill's comments came as Parliament debates the Bill during its first reading today, before sending it to select committee.

"The cost of the Commissioner, officials, consultants and bureaucrats will be levied on the industry. The great Government business clobbering machine is back at work.

"The Prime Minister endorsing this extra business cost is rather ironic given she squashed Laila Harre's plan to force business into paying a tax for paid parental leave.

"The end result will be higher prices for the consumer and that's not in keeping with the stated purposes of this Bill.

Mr Neill went on to question the appeal process indicating that the Government is saying "business doesn't deserve full appeal rights."

"The Commissioner's determinations are only subject to judicial review and not to appeal on merits. There is no real review of the reviewer.

"The select committee has to also decide the fate of the 11-year-old system of the Kiwi Share, given technology advancements.

Reading an email from a rural constituent complaining about poor Internet speed despite paying full connection fees, Mr Neil said upgrading rural Internet services must also be a priority for the legislation.


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