Note: My question is at 1 min 10 secs
Steven Joyce today ducked a question in parliament on why his government’s decision to regulate mobile termination rates contradicts its plans to provide its new fibre network with a ten year regulatory holiday on the pricing of fibre.
Was it because he didn’t know what to say or because he just didn’t want to raise attention to the contradiction. It’s the first time I’ve seen him actually stumped.
The question put to Mr Joyce in the House today was:
Given his logical decision to regulate on MTR, what is the basis of his illogical decision to give a regulatory free pass to the coming new fibre networks
In ruling out the question Speaker Lockwood Smith also refused to allow the following question:
Given the Government’s conflicting role as an investor and regulator of the new network, how will New Zealanders who take up fibre know that you are putting their interests first?
I think New Zealanders, who want ultrafast broadband and want a new network which delivers benefits for them using $1.5 billion in taxpayer’s money, would like to know the answers to both those questions.
Labour is glad the Minister decided today to regulate on mobile termination rates. But we’re not glad that the government could now derail the goal of affordable and accessible broadband services for New Zealanders with news that Local Fibre Companies, the private public partnerships set up to manage the $1.5 billion broadband project, will enjoy a 10 year regulatory holiday locking out the Commerce Commission from reviewing prices for fibre available to New Zealand consumers.
Instead, fibre prices will be set by commercial contract to be negotiated with Crown Fibre Holdings (CFH), the entity set up to evaluate the bids to run the network, and proofed against review by the regulator for ten years – a situation that applies to no other network industry in New Zealand.
There is a real of a lack of transparency, confused governance and increasing uncertainty about how the decision is being made to spend $1.5 billion of taxpayer money. All the players are saying this. Industry commentators are saying it.
That’s why Labour has called for the Commerce Commission to have an independent oversight role.