by Gareth Hughes
Chorus has decided to head off to Court to challenge the Commerce Commission’s ruling Kiwis should receive cheaper Internet – no surprise there. The biggest surprise has been the Government’s response to the unprecedented parliamentary revolt over legislating regarding the Commerce Commission.
I believe the Prime Minister is trying to rewrite history: all the minor parties; alongside Labour and the Greens made it pretty clear we wouldn’t support the legislation. We withdrew our support for this legislation which would override the Commerce Commission’s copper Internet price ruling to protect Chorus’ Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB). Prime Minister John Key said on Breakfast yesterday “…we were never going to use legislation because we knew right from the get-go people wouldn’t vote for that.” However ICT Minister Amy Adams’ own Telecommunications Act 2001 discussion paper only presented options that were needed for the legislation to proceed.
So, the Government has only presented the public with options requiring legislation and now they say that wasn’t the plan at all. If that was the case the whole review was an incredible waste of time and taxpayers’ money, especially if they knew it wasn’t an option from the get-go. Key is simply trying to rewrite history and trying to spin his way out of a battle the Government has lost.
The Government took a legislation-first approach in its actions over Chorus and thanks to the work of the Axe the Tax campaign and cross-party political cooperation; this will no longer proceed. I hope the Government can now take legislating over the Commerce Commission entirely off the table and wait for the Ernst and Young independent report into Chorus’ UFB ability. I hope then the Government can reach out to the Axe the Tax campaign and other parliamentary parties to forge a political consensus on the next steps and solutions. Ultimately we all support ultra-fast broadband for New Zealand and want to see it successfully rolled out across New Zealand.