Many questions, but no answers on Telecommunications bill

Green MP Gareth Hughes had some questions for Communications Minister Steven Joyce in Parliament yesterday:

Here was Steven Joyce’s reply:

Nothing to say here. Nothing to say here. Nothing to say here. Nothing to say here.

So Gareth tried again:

Steven Joyce still wouldn’t take a call to respond.

As Toad, one of our regular frogblog commenters, has pointed out at

Under the SOP, the restriction on foreign ownership will be gone.  The free local calling provision is supposedly protected.  But there will be a new and far less robust mechanism than the previous statutory requirements. The mechanism to do this will not be a special rights share, but according to the Ministry of Economic Development [PDF] will be:

“…a combination of constitutional requirements on the company, a small parcel of ordinary shares held by the Government, and a Deed between the company and the Government.”

So there will be no protection of free local calling in statute law.  The constitutional requirements and the Deed will be able to be reviewed by any future Government  without any reference to Parliament.  And if Don Brash and his Actoids are part of a future Government, you can bet the farm on free local calling being gone by lunchtime.

As Green Co-Leader Russel Norman said today:

How can we be sure that National or any future Government won’t break the promise to keep a majority ownership stake in our state-owned energy companies?

The underhand way the Government has handled this major policy change on the Kiwi share suggests that John Key can’t be trusted. He’s obviously committed to a privatisation agenda and seems to have learned nothing from the disastrous decisions made in the 1980s and 1990s.

10 Comments Posted

  1. It is always going to be corrupt when money is involved! I dont think that privatization is the answer because that just begs the people running it to focus on making more money which obviously is not to the benefit of the people

  2. Greater Wellington: well if the Antarctic keeps melting – we might call it an undersea resort – but then, it may not be so very funny…..

  3. Is it possible that the amendment was only put in place after the contract had been awarded to Telecom? Theoretically, the copper network would still have been owned by Telecom had the fibre-optic network been awarded to somebody else, and so the Kiwi Share obligations would need to have still been in place.

  4. @Deed 10:16 PM

    So why the failure to advise all Parties in Parliament that is going on well in advance?

    And while the legislation may have been changed (citing and linking to the legislation would be good if you don’t want to be seen as a troll), why does that excuse Steven Joyce from dropping these amendments on other Parties at the last minute, giving them limited ability to scrutinise them and no ability to consult about them?

  5. The legislation was changed in 2001 so Kiwi share obligations on Telecom were enforced by deed. This remains the case following this current bill. So I guess these concerns are about 10 years too late.

  6. Greater Wellington: well if the Antarctic keeps melting – we might call it an undersea resort – but then, it may not be so very funny…..

  7. Perfectly clear to me, photonz1.

    It was about the abrogation of democratic process. And Steven Joyce would not take a call to address that, even though he was the Minister in charge of the Bill.

  8. Gareth’s video is a fantastic cure for insomnia – have a look.(seriosuly -see if you can concentrate fully to the end)

    I’m going to play this to my kids if they won’t go to sleep.

    Sorry Gareth – you do some good and valuable work, but his video is……..well………..yawn.. ….er…..sorry……..what were you talking about?

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