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Question time for Mr Joyce

Spokesperson for Communications and IT
1 August 2011

Question time for Mr Joyce

Labour’s Communications and IT spokesperson Clare Curran has laid a complaint with Speaker Lockwood Smith over whether Communications Minister Steven Joyce deliberately misled Parliament by not revealing the existence of a crucial letter from Telecom CEO Paul Reynolds on the ultrafast broadband project.

“Mr Joyce denied having received or sent any correspondence on the structural separation of Telecom in an answer to a written question I put to him in October 2009. This was despite a letter from Mr Reynolds to the Minister in August 2009 referring to this very issue.

“Last week, on 25 July, the Dominion Post reported that the Ombudsman had conducted an extensive investigation into the release of that letter, following an OIA request. On the very next day the Minister is quoted as saying that it was now being released ‘given the passage of time.’

“Given the significance of the policy considerations and the contents of the letter, in which Paul Reynolds writes: ‘This is an extremely significant issue for us…’ it is inconceivable that the Minister was not aware of the correspondence,” Clare Curran said.

“There can be no mistake about the subject of the question because the Minister repeated the phraseology of the question by using the words ‘possible structural separation of Telecom’.

“Mr Joyce has also acknowledged that the Telecom letter has been a significant issue for his office, all of which indicates he definitely knew about it. During the two years since I put the question, no attempt has been made to correct the written answer or to notify my office of an error.

“The circumstances surrounding the tendering process for the ultrafast broadband project have been under a cloud from day one. Steven Joyce has been adamant that there was no preconceived plan to provide the contract to Telecom and that structural separation decisions were a matter for Telecom alone.

“He and his government have consistently denied any discussions with Telecom on this matter. The letter signals otherwise,” Clare Curran said.


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