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Telecom Bill Unnecessarily Delayed - Peters

Media Release

8 November 2001

TELECOM BILL UNNECESSARILY DELAYED - PETERS

Last year the Minister of Communications, Hon Paul Swain, created quite a fan fare on his Telecommunication Inquiry.

After 10 years without a referee and without rules of the game, telecommunications in New Zealand was about to enter a new era of competition.

"So why" asks the Rt Hon Winston Peters, "is the Telecommunications Bill languishing way down the order paper, and what has happened to the Minister's promise to have this bill passed by Christmas 2001.

Delays only benefit the incumbent Telecom:

* Existing companies are unable to advise their owners of new capital development requirements;

* Incoming new players are frustrated by a lack of regulatory framework in which to participate;

* Worst of all New Zealand businesses and consumer interests go on paying through the nose whilst being denied the fruits of a promised competitive environment;

* Meanwhile the hypocrisy of Telecom's position is exposed (Evening Post, 7 November 2001, page 22). "Telecom has signed an Australian deal with Vodafone, to buy capacity on its rival's network. Telecom will operate its own brand, with Vodafone managing interconnection and roaming." This is the reverse of Telecom's 10 year long argument in New Zealand which has deceived both National and Labour.

"New Zealand First makes it clear, having initiated measures to provide a competitive Telecom environment in July-August 1998, that we are happy to grant the Government urgency on this matter.

"However, it begs the question - just what has Telecom got over the Government, or for that matter its predecessor - that action has been effectively delayed for so long," concluded Mr Peters.

ENDS

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