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English should support Commerce Commission

David Parker
Spokesperson for Finance

10 December 2013

English should support Commerce Commission

Labour is calling on Finance Minister Bill English not to undermine the Commerce Commission, because it has a vital role in protecting consumers from price gouging.

Finance spokesperson David Parker says Bill English’s warning he will review legislation around the Commission after it ruled to cut wholesale copper-based internet prices, sounds like “sour grapes”.

“The Commerce Commission has a proper role to limit monopoly excess. Monopolies do what monopolies can. They extract excessive prices from consumers if they are not properly regulated.

“Claims by some overseas investors in Chorus that the Commerce Commission’s decision on copper broadband pricing came as a surprise to them should not spook the Government. New Zealand’s reputation for transparency and ease of doing business includes our history of respecting the decisions of independent regulators.

“We absolutely need an independent Commerce Commission to properly control monopoly excess.

“Anytime the big end of town gets into trouble, this Government rushes to their aide.

“New Zealand must have an independent Commerce Commission to protect the interests of consumers.

“Labour does not oppose laws being reviewed. In fact, a Labour government would review the Reserve Bank’s mandate.

“However, the issue here is that National’s attacks on the Commerce Commission decision on copper prices gave false hope to Chorus that it would be overruled.

“The Government has had to dump that plan because it doesn’t have enough Parliamentary support to pass legislation.

“It is hysteria from the National Government which has contributed to an extreme reaction in Chorus’ share price,” David Parker says.

ENDS

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