TelstraClear calls fast-tracked telco bill a 'Mad Hatter's tea party'
TelstraClear has added its voice to those criticising the government's decision to fast-track discussion on the Telecommunications Ammendment Bill, which covers regulatory changes need for the rural broadband initiative (RBI) and the ultrafast broadband project (UFB).
A supplementary order paper (SOP) added to the bill this week (which is longer than the original bill), allows for the structural separation of Telecom into two separate companies, plus changes to the way the whole industry is regulated.
An accelerated public submission process saw industry given just eleven days to respond - compared to six weeks for the regular select committe process.
Lobby groups, including Tuanz and InternetNZ, called for a delay, given the bill's unexpectedly sweeping nature.
“The latest proposal is yet another salvo in a raft of highly complex and far-reaching proposals delivered to the industry. It seems to have been delivered in haste and with little room for public consultation,” TelstraClear chief executive Allan Freeth said this afternoon.
“The devil is always in the detail and in this case the detail can have enormous consequences for competition and for consumers," Dr Freeth said.
“The proposal outlined threatens industry competition and consumer rights, and looks set to unravel an industry that’s taken 20 years to mature.
“The Bill is set to fundamentally change the New Zealand telecommunications landscape forever. If we don’t get this right, New Zealanders could be condemned to poor quality regulation for years to come,” Dr Freeth says.
“Furthermore in a week when the Government signed a protocol with Australia to attract greater investment it is incredulous that it seems intent on trampling over proper process. It is reminiscent of a Mad Hatter's tea party and sends the wrong message to investors who want certainty."
Concern about the pace, but not the big picture
But although Dr Freeth strenuously object to the pace of change set out this week, he is more supportive of broad developments.