The National Government is rushing through one of the biggest changes in telecommunications in New Zealand history and appears set on handing more than $1 billion of taxpayer's money to Telecom, awarding it monopoly status over fibre broadband delivery and a 10 year free period from price regulation," Labour's communications and IT spokesperson Clare Curran said today.
"Amendments to the Telecommunications Amendment Bill tabled this morning at the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee outline the process for Telecom to structurally separate. This is a requirement for them to be awarded the bulk of the $1.5 billion for ultrafast broadband.
"The Minister hasn't yet announced the broadband contract, and yet we have legislation being rushed through the committee process that indicates it will be a fait accompli for Telecom.
"Why else would the government have tabled the structural separation amendments?
"These are very complex and significant law changes that may affect other legislation. The public and the telecommunications industry must have adequate time to scrutinise it and prepare submissions.
"Instead the government is determined to close submissions next week and hold public hearing the week after.
"One week is just not enough for the industry who will be directly affected as partners or competitors to make submissions.
"A normal select committee process has a standard 6 week consultation period so everyone can understand and test the draft law.
"These changes are irreversible and will radically reshape a twenty year regulatory history in telecommunications. One week for the public to consider the implications and submit is just not good enough.
"As with the Marine and Coastal Area Takutai Moana Bill, the government is disregarding democratic process and rushing through its law changes with scant regard to community reaction and involvement.
New Zealanders deserve better than this and Communications Minister Steven Joyce is demonstrating arrogance and disregard for community, consultation and democratic process" Clare Curran said.
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