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Telecommunications Legislation is Shameful

Telecommunications Legislation is Shameful

Friday 7 Dec 2001 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Governance & Constitution

The passage of the Telecommunications Bill through the Committee stages has been a scandal in process and substance, ACT Communication Spokesman MP Muriel Newman said today.

"The scandal started last year when the Government gave an assurance to the telecommunications industry that mobile services would not be regulated. In spite of the Hugh Fletcher-led Telecommunications Inquiry recommending mobile phone service regulation, officials convinced the Government that the benefits of regulation did not outweigh the costs.

"When the Telecommunications Bill was tabled in the House in May, there was no mention of regulation, so public submitters did not address it. That was until a group comprising Maori interests and Econet Holdings gave a secret submission to the Select Committee after hearings had closed. They gained the ear of the Prime Minister and of senior members of cabinet, and convinced the Government that regulation was warranted.

"Vodafone - the subject of allegations in the secret submission - have said the claims made about them were "untrue, misleading and seriously damaging". They were denied their right to natural justice by being unable to address the claims that were made.

"Legislation to regulate mobile services was inserted in a supplementary order paper and passed through the House in the dead of night under urgency.

"It confiscates property rights with no compensation, taking New Zealand backwards.

"The Government is breaking its word to industry. A Government that breaches its promises cannot be trusted," Mrs 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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