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Are the wheels falling off broadband?

Clare Curran

Communications and IT spokesperson

17 November 2010 Media Statement
Are the wheels falling off broadband?

Delays, confusion, and now the perception of conflict of interest are casting a shadow over the way Communications Minister Steven Joyce is handling the rollout of its $1.5 billion ultrafast broadband scheme, Labour’s communications and IT spokesperson Clare Curran said today.

“More than two years after the election, the country is still waiting to hear who will win the contract to roll out the National Government’s big election pledge,” Clare Curran said.

“All I am hearing about is more delays, more confusion, frustration among the potential bidders and a loss of confidence in the process by bidders who have pulled out.

“This is coupled with Steven Joyce’s refusal to even acknowledge, let alone deal with, perceptions of conflict of interest surrounding a director of the Crown company established to roll out ultrafast broadband.

“All this adds up to a picture of a project in trouble.

“It is my understanding that Crown Fibre Holdings is close to making a partial deal on the ultrafast broadband contract. I hope the Minister will approve the entire project.

“Steven Joyce has to acknowledge that the UFB is not going to plan, that the complexities around Telecom’s role in the project, and the requirement for them to structurally separate to participate, has added to the complexity and muddied the waters.

“Steven Joyce should take account of this and the guidance for public entities in managing conflicts of interest published on the website of the Office of the Auditor General which reads:

Impartiality and transparency in public administration are essential to maintaining the integrity of the public sector. Where activities are paid for by public funds or are carried out in the public interest, members of Parliament, the media, and the public will have high expectations.

‘When making decisions about conflicts of interest, public entities need to be guided by the concepts of integrity, honesty, transparency, openness, independence, good faith, and service to the public. They also need to consider the risk of how an outside observer may reasonably perceive the situation.’

“It appears Mr Joyce has received poor advice and has some explaining to do to the New Zealand public,” Clare Curran said.

ENDS

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