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Labour Plays Politics And Consumers Lose

The Labour Party has decided to play politics rather than help consumers get the lower power prices they deserve, Enterprise and Commerce Minister Max Bradford said today.

Mr Bradford was commenting following the announcement that Labour would not support Government legislation to regulate monopoly electricity lines companies.

"The Bill would have ensured that hundreds of thousands of people had access to lower power prices, but Labour has decided to turn their back on consumers.

"If the bill does not pass there will be no checks in the system, consumers will be at risk," Mr Bradford said.

"It is a kick in the teeth for residents in Christchurch, Marlborough, Auckland, Wellington, Rotorua and virtually every other centre you could name, who will be denied the lower lines charges the bill would have forced.

"Labour's sudden about face is also a blow for consumers in places like Dunedin where there is no retail competition.

"What Labour has done is agree that the significant effective increases in charges and profits announced by companies like Orion and United are okay by Labour," Mr Bradford said.

"Labour is soft on monopolies, just as they are soft on unions.

"National stands for the rights of consumers. And that is why the bill gave the Commerce Commission the power to assess whether these monopoly lines companies were making unjustifiable profits and charges."

Mr Bradford said it appeared that monopoly lines companies representing a significant proportion of New Zealand consumers had done a deal with the Labour Party.

"If that is not collusion I do not know what is, and what is more it is collusion of the worst sort, collusion between monopoly companies and a political party in opposition," Mr Bradford said.

"Mr Hodgson has been trumpeting for months that he believes lines company price controls are needed, yet here he is voting against them.

"Three weeks ago Mr Hodgson said Labour supported the regulation of monopoly services (see paragraph two of attached submission).

"It is a clearly defining issue. A National-led Government stands for the rights of consumers.

"The Labour Party obviously stands for the rights of monopolies to overcharge consumers," Mr Bradford said.


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