Opposition IT spokesman Maurice Williamson says there should be a right of appeal for “all affected parties” against decisions of the Telecommunications Commissioner.
Most government bodies handing down decisions with effect on business have an appeal structure whereby the final decision can be questioned, he says, and Commissioner Douglas Webb's decisions should be no less subject to review.
The discusssion document published in the course of government consideration of useful reforms to the Telecommunications Act specifically excludes from its terms of reference any consideration of "the need for a Telecommunications Services Industry Ombudsman".
The process of the Commissioner’s coming to a finding is typically preceded by lengthy hearings, but once that decision is reached, it is final and cannot be further challenged, which Williamson says is inconsistent and potentially unfair.
Speaking to an audience of Tuanz members after the organisation’s annual general meeting, Williamson said he found it ironic when National was in government the Labour opposition “criticised me for not unbundling the local loop and told me I was in the pocket of big business,” but when given the chance, the Commissioner still decided not to recommend unbundling and the present Cabinet endorsed that decision.
However, “I still think it’s the right decision,” he says.