Telecomms report gets booted around

Government ministers are already treating the telecommunications inquiry report as a political football.

Government ministers are already treating the telecommunications inquiry report as a political football.

Minister of finance Michael Cullen has suggested the government will disregard the report’s call for greater regulation of the sector.

“Mr Swain has always been sceptical about the value of industry specific regulation, rather preferring to look at using the Commerce Commission as a vehicle for any regulatory changes which may be approved,” Cullen said in a media statement intended to calm the sharemarket’s jitters over report’s contents. Although stopping short of directly attacking the Inquiry’s report himself, Cullen does point to the government’s moves in the electricity sector as a guideline for any decision it makes on telecommunications.

“A conclusion the markets ought to be drawing from the electricity decisions announced this week is that the present government does not adopt unnecessarily heavy regulatory approaches and it is very unlikely we would do so with respect to telecommunications,” says Cullen.

But Paul Swain’s office says Cullen is not referring to any new statement made by Swain; rather, he is referring to comments Swain made before the election.

“We have spoken to [Cullen’s] office about the statement and it was because of the sharemarket, and [Swain] isn’t saying anything new at the moment,” says a spokeswoman. She says Swain has yet to comment on the inquiry report in particular and won’t do that until he has presented his report to Cabinet, hopefully before Christmas.

Telecom’s share price has been declining over the past six months from a high of around $9.70 a share to $5.50 last week.

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