Luxton learns the IT ropes

He has experience in commerce and in the world of farming as well as politics but when it comes to telecommunications the National party's new spokesman John Luxton is the first to admit he's on a steep learning curve.

He has experience in commerce and in the world of farming as well as politics but when it comes to telecommunications, the National party's new spokesman John Luxton is the first to admit he's on a steep learning curve.

Luxton has only been in the job for a matter of days, taking over from Alec Neill who will focus on his role as spokesman for local government and for conservation.

"I do have some concerns about the new legislation being introduced, particularly with regard to the new supplementary order paper [SOP], but on the whole we support a very light-handed regulatory regime."

The SOP will make up the bulk of the suggested changes put forward by the select committee that reviewed the draft copy of the new telecommunications bill.

Luxton, who has served his time as a minister of commerce and industry, favours a consistent hands-off approach but does agree the New Zealand market needs some regulation.

"I wouldn't like to see the government changing the rules too often, especially if it's to move the goal posts closer for one particular side. That's not going to instill confidence in the business community." Luxton says there has been innovation and entrepreneurship in New Zealand in the telecommunications sector and he's keen to see that spread.

"Particularly in the mobile phone market there's been a huge amount of real competition and that's driven by new technology." Luxton says the wireless environment is one area he sees huge growth potential, and he would like to see New Zealanders take up the new technology with the same gusto he says he's seen in the mobile phone sector.

"It's one of the success stories of New Zealand in that it's a place where people tend to use new technology because it has been less regulated than any other environment. They've made that investment because they've been able to make a return on it."

Rural telecommunication issues are also close to Luxton's heart and he'll be making sure the non-CBD users aren't left behind by any telco environment.

"I've talked in the past with Ericsson at their facility on the east coast and they're doing some really innovative things over there, world class developments that are being applied overseas before we see them here." He believes the issue of rural access to broadband can't be overstated.

"They are looking to new technologies and they do want to be involved [in the knowledge economy] but there are challenges for both them and for the providers."

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