Labour has hit out at the changes to the Telecommunication Amendment Bill that will see the regulatory forbearance period dumped in favour of “contractual mechanisms”.
Under the change announced by ICT Minister Steven Joyce, the Commerce Commission will now have full oversight of the Ultra Fast Broadband network. But, if the Commission believes prices should go lower at some point over the build period, government wears the risk not consumers.
Labour ICT spokesperson Clare Curran describes the change as bad policy that sets a dangerous precedent for the Commerce Commission to regulate.
“It essentially insulates the winning contractor from risk and puts it on the Crown,” she says.
“The Bill was referred back to the House on Monday, just two days before a major component has been replaced with something that look like it’s been very cobbled together.
“This is a last-minute change that appears to have been forced on the Government by the Maori Party, who have realised that consumers won’t be better off.”
She describes the change as a serious embarrassment for Minister Steven Joyce and for the Government.
Green Party reaction
Green Party spokesman Gareth Hughes says he welcomes the back down but still wants to look at the changes in detail before the party considers changing its vote.
“We’ve got some questions about how the compensation will work,” he says. “In fact, it raises a whole bunch of questions."