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Labour to investigate telecommunications market

Labour
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"Labour embraced early the need to move to a knowledge-based economy and will make that commitment the centre-piece of its economic policy in government," Labour commerce spokesperson Paul Swain said today.

"A well-functioning telecommunications system is essential to this vision. We simply cannot tolerate any roadblocks on the information super-highway.

"Labour is therefore perturbed that New Zealand's telecommunications market is not functioning as well as it should.

"The latest evidence of the market's poor performance is a report from the Australian Productivity Commission this year comparing New Zealand to Finland, Sweden, Britain, Australia, the United States, Canada, France and Japan," Mr Swain said.

Key findings of the study were:
· That New Zealand was "by a significant margin," the worst performing country in terms of price with prices between 47 percent and 181 percent higher than the best performing countries.
· That New Zealand ranked at the bottom for four of the six services measured, including business telephone services and residential mobile services. On the remaining two services - residential telephone and business mobile - it was ranked second to bottom.

"No government that cares about New Zealand's economic future can afford to be complacent about those results.

"For this reason the incoming Labour Government will order an inquiry into the telecommunications sector. Subjects to be canvassed will include: interconnection agreements, an independent numbering plan, number portability, bundled services and access to the Internet under the Kiwi Share obligations.

"The inquiry, which will be set up as a matter of priority, will be given a six months deadline. Part of the brief will be to recommend whether a new regulatory regime is needed to secure fairer competition and a better deal for the consumer," Mr Swain said.

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