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Copper Tax Submissions Should Not Be Kept Secret

7 October 2013

Copper Tax Submissions Should Not Be Kept Secret

The Coalition for Fair Internet Pricing says all responses to the government’s Discussion Document on the Review of the Telecommunications Act 2001 should be made public on the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) website.

The responses are all available under the Official Information Act and some, including from Telecom and Vodafone and copper network monopolist Chorus, have already become publicly available.

It is common practice for government departments, including MBIE, to proactively publish responses to government Discussion Documents, however this has not happened for the Telecommunications Act review.

A spokeswoman for the coalition, Sue Chetwin, also chief executive of Consumer NZ, said making all information public would improve the quality of policy advice to the government because it would allow for further expert peer review of the responses.

“Transparency is an important principle of government. It leads to greater contestability which can only improve policy advice,” she said. “Ministers themselves should be as keen for the submissions to become public as the telecommunications sector and consumers. It would be a terrible precedent for some of the submissions to be kept secret, beyond what may need to be redacted for commercial reasons.”

The coalition’s submission was based on analysis by top economists Covec, which in turn was peer-reviewed by Network Strategies and found to be conservative.

The Covec study found the government’s proposed copper tax would cost Kiwi households and businesses between $390 million and $449 million between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2019 over the price for copper broadband and voice services that Commerce Commission work indicates is fair. The latest demands by Chorus would take this cost to Kiwi households and businesses to $979 million.

This is despite Chorus being a strongly profitable company that paid $95 million in dividends to its shareholders last year.

The Coalition for Fair Internet Pricing was founded by Consumer NZ, InternetNZ, and the Telecommunication Users Association of New Zealand (TUANZ) and is supported by CallPlus and Slingshot, the Federation of Maori Authorities, Greypower, Hautaki Trust, KiwiBlog, KLR Holdings, National Urban Maori Authorities, New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations, Orcon, Rural Women, Te Huarahi Tika Trust and the Unite Union.

Click here to read The Coalition for Fair Internet Pricing submission.

ENDS

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