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Copper Tax – No thanks, says the Maori Party

Media Statement

28 November 2013

Copper Tax – No thanks, says the Maori Party

The Maori Party will oppose any legislation to reduce or delay the cuts to internet prices ordered by the Commerce Commission to come into force on 1 December 2014.

“The Maori Party is keenly aware of the digital divide within New Zealand, as reported by the World Internet Project last week. We do not support further entrenching that divide by increasing the cost of copper broadband and voice services above the price set by the Commerce Commission,” says Maori Party Co-Leader Tariana Turia.

“Low income, elderly, Maori, Pasifika and rural communities already have inferior access to the internet. The Commerce Commission’s final pricing determination would help bridge that divide by making access to the internet nearly 25% cheaper, and we are certainly not going to stand in the way of that.”

“Maori have made a huge contribution to ICT services and development in New Zealand, likewise Maori have been keen users of this technology as a means of promoting the development and growth of our language and culture.”

Maori Party Co-Leader Te Ururoa Flavell says the UFB and RBI roll out is extremely important for improving access of all New Zealanders to vital services, information and opportunities.

“We have policies for marae access to broadband that drives development for Maori communities, turning marae into business incubators, training classrooms, employment agencies and marketing hubs. We also believe, however, that New Zealanders should not be paying a premium to utilise existing copper infrastructure that has already been paid for over a number of decades. Many will not be able to afford or will not have access to the new fibre infrastructure – especially low-income Maori families for whom price is a real barrier to internet access. An affordable copper based technology is essential,” says Te Ururoa Flavell.

“Given that Chorus will have a monopoly in the market, we think that the Commerce Commission as an independent regulator is the right group of people to set the monthly charges for copper services. We do not think that Parliament or Government should override that decision, particularly when it seems to be simply creating an income generating scheme for a private company.”

“We urge the government to find another way to deal with any problems with Chorus’s roll-out of ultra-fast broadband than imposing higher prices for copper services on all New Zealanders, including the 25% of New Zealanders whom it appears will never have access to ultra-fast broadband.”

ENDS

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