Dr Stephen Gale has been re-appointed telecommunications commissioner and a member of the Commerce Commission for a further three years when his current term ends on 11 July.
Announcing his re-appointment, communications minister, Simon Bridges, said it recognised his valuable knowledge and expertise in competition and pricing issues, and the significant contribution he had made to the work of the commission over a number of years.
Bridges re-affirmed the importance of Gale’s role saying, “The telecommunications sector is going through a significant transition, with the review of the Telecommunications Act. The role of the commissioner continues to be of vital importance as unique issues may emerge that require specialist understanding of the sector. Dr Gale’s reappointment provides the stability and continuity needed at this time.”
The role of telecommunications commissioner came under threat in 2015 when the Government canvassed its abolition in a discussion paper “Regulating Communications for the future” in which it said: “From an institutional design point of view it may be appropriate to consider whether the telecommunications commissioner role should continue to be distinct from the roles of the other commissioners, or whether communications issues should be dealt with by generalist commissioners.”
Another canvassed change also did not make the cut: the discussion paper suggested renaming the telecommunications commissioner the communications commissioner “recognising the converged nature of the sector.”
Gale was appointed commissioner in in July 2012 for a five-year term having served as an associate commissioner since July 2010. According to his profile on the commission’s web site prior to his appointment he specialised for some years in infrastructure economics (energy, telco and transport) and competition proceedings at the consulting firm Castalia and before that was at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research.