Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Commerce Commission laws to be reviewed - English

Bill English says the Govt will review legislation around the Commerce Commission - but won't rein in its independence. Photo / NZ Herald
Bill English says the Govt will review legislation around the Commerce Commission - but won't rein in its independence. Photo / NZ Herald

The Government is to review legislation around the Commerce Commission following its ruling to cut wholesale copper based internet prices, Finance Minister Bill English says.

However he says the Government does not intend limiting the independence of the competition and consumer watchdog.

English this morning said the Government would conduct "a bit of a health check on regulatory regimes".

"We do want make sure that the rules that the Commerce Commission are applying are sensible rules and that we don't get another episode where there's such a significant impact from a decision based on our regulation", he told NewsTalkZB this morning.

Speaking to reporters at Parliament, English said: "You've seen a fairly significant impact of a regulatory decision on Chorus. I think it's in the interest of consumers and investors that the regulatory regime is reasonably predictable."

English said the Government was also mindful of past decisions by the commission and also the Labour Greens policy around electricity.

"These things are not connected but they could create a picture of New Zealand having an uncertain investment environment. We'd prefer it to be predictable."

However he dismissed suggestions the Government planned to limit the commission's independence.

"It's really just a matter of checking that our legislative frameworks that we use for ensuring monopolies are under control and ensuring that we have good competition are as good as we always thought they were."

English confirmed that investors had raised concerns about this country's regulatory environment following the Chorus decision.

Labour's finance spokesman David Parker said the review sounded like sour grapes on the part of the Government following the commission's copper pricing ruling.

"Any time the big end of town gets into trouble this Government rushes to their aid", he said.

"We think that it's appropriate that we have an independent Commerce Commission to protect the interests of consumers.

"The Commerce Commission has a proper role to limit monopoly excess. Monopolies do what monopolies can and they extract excessive prices from consumers if they're not properly regulated. We absolutely need an independent Commerce Commission to property control monopoly excess including from the likes of Chorus."

- NZ Herald

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