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Why Should Business Trust This Government?

Why Should Business Trust This Government?

Wednesday, October 10 2001 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Commerce

The Government is again showing its disdain for business through its plan to drive through hasty last minute changes to telecommunications regulations to benefit a company associated with Maori interests, ACT Telecommunications Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman.

After hearing late Select Committee submissions heard in private from Econet Wireless Ltd, which has links with the Maori group Hautaki Trust, the Government did a u-turn on its earlier announcements. The effect is that Econet will be allowed to use Vodafone's network in areas where it does not have coverage and to place transmission equipment on Vodafone's and Telecom's cellsite towers. The Government intends to use its Parliamentary majority to push the measure through with a Supplementary Order Paper to the Telecommunications Bill.

"The Government called a halt to the auction of third-generation spectrum to clarify what would be in the new telecoms regulations. It then stated clearly that mobile roaming would not be regulated. This gave businesses the confidence to bid for spectrum at higher prices. Then, after behind the scenes lobbying, the Government betrayed businesses with its u-turn.

"Vodafone has spent more than $1.5 billion on equipment, systems and services ' and now thanks to behind the scenes manoeuvres it has to let a new player in the market use its facilities and set up for a fraction of the cost.

"Whether it be mining companies on the West Coast, airline companies in Australasia, or telecommunications companies nationally, a pattern is emerging of private companies diligently working through the appropriate channels only to have the Government ride roughshod over property rights in sudden policy changes.

"In this case it seems clear that the Government has given a sop to its Maori MPs by changing all the rules to allow a company with Maori involvement to enter the mobile phone market cheaply and easily. As always votes have been the prime motivation.

"This is sending incredibly bad signals to business. Why should businesses trust this Government when it is prepared to change all the rules at short notice?

"Businesses need certainty to plan investments ' and to create new jobs. As a small, isolated country, we need to be attracting new business. This Government's ideological dislike for business could see more and more potential new industries established elsewhere ' at a cost to everyone," Dr Newman said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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