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Telecommunications Policy Sound - Williamson

August 10 1999 IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hon Maurice Williamson

Minister of Communications

New Zealanders have enjoyed a very competitive telecommunications environment since the Labour Government left office in 1990, Communications Minister Maurice Williamson said today.

He was responding to comments made by Labour Commerce spokesman Paul Swain who criticized market performance with the use of an outdated report that was not consistent with standard OECD models.

"The Statistics New Zealand residential telephone service price index shows that prices have declined by on average 3.6 percent per annum in real terms since March 1991," said Mr Williamson.

"Mr Swain is using a report which used data that was collected in March 1998 and included a limited amount of countries for comparisons, did not take account of long duration national and international calls including $5 weekends and was inconsistent with standard OECD tariff basket methodology.

"If Mr Swain had referred to recent OECD tariff comparisons for residential national call tariffs, he would have seen that New Zealand was ranked 15th out of 29 countries."

"It was also interesting to see the Labour Party talk about beefing up the information disclosure regime, the day the National Government announced such a change," said Mr Williamson.

"I think Mr swain must have also missed the fact that all major telecommunications companies have signed up to a number administration deed. This provides for telephone numbers to be independently administered and for the industry itself to determine the form in which number portability is provided.

"After 9 years in opposition, the best they can come up with is yet another inquiry."


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