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Telecoms approach urges pragmatism, urgency


Media Release August 28th, 2000

Telecoms approach urges pragmatism, urgency

The Northern Employers & Manufacturers Association has endorsed several core recommendations of the draft report of the Telecommunications Inquiry including those to establish an Electronics Communications Commissioner and a Telecommunications Industry Forum.

EMA's chief executive Alasdair Thompson told the inquiry hearing in Auckland this morning that though the association wants to see minimal regulation, the light handed regulatory framework over the past decade had delivered heavy legal costs and long delays, at the cost of users.

"We endorsed the Inquiry's preliminary report to set up a communications commissioner provided the regulatory issues it selects for designation are subject to regular review and under time constraints," Mr Thompson said.

"We certainly don't want to see an Australian or UK style regulator like the ACCC or OFTEL. The degree of extra regulation we envisage is far lighter than those.

"We are confident the caveats stipulated would also prevent 'regulatory creep'.

"Our prescription for the telecommunications environment overall aims to achieve realisable gains immediately through some very modest pragmatic changes, rather than holding out for some ideal, technical or regulatory framework that may or may not evolve at some indeterminate time in future.

"We want to see these changes introduced with orderly haste too, to galvanise New Zealanders use of the revolutionary technology available, particularly for education and business purposes.

"We don't pretend to have a comprehensive answer to the complex issues surrounding local loop unbundling, the kiwi share's Universal Service Obligation and interconnection pricing.

"Nevertheless we can see the need to provide access to Telecom's network at wholesale costs, and for this issue to be kept high on the agenda of the Communications Commissioner.

"All our comments were prefaced in the expectation that the changes to the Commerce Act would proceed as the Government has stated, especially to the threshold definition of market dominance in Section 36. In general the EMA wants these amendments to the law to proceed.

"The most important consideration of all in our view is that the recommendations implemented must encourage early new investment, and innovation."

(The submission is on the Inquiry's web site at www.teleinquiry.govt.nz)

Further comments: Alasdair Thompson tel 09 367 0911 (bus) 09 303 3951 (hme) 025 982 024

or Gilbert Peterson 09 367 0900 ex 614 (bus) 09 480 5818 (hme)


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