Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Chorus snaps at watchdog

Finance Minister Bill English. Photo / Doug Sherring
Finance Minister Bill English. Photo / Doug Sherring

Bruised by a Commerce Commission ruling that will cut its revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars, network company Chorus is challenging whether the competition and consumer watchdog should retain its independence.

Prompted by the ruling on wholesale copper internet prices, which the Government says threatens its ultrafast broadband project, Finance Minister Bill English yesterday said the rules under which the commission operates would be examined.

"You've seen a fairly significant impact of a regulatory decision on Chorus," he said.

"It's in the interest of consumers and investors that the regulatory regime is reasonably predictable."

But officials in his office said last night that work would wait until the Productivity Commission completes its own review of the commission and other regulatory institutions next year.

Clearly smarting from the commission's decision on copper pricing, Chorus said in a submission to the Productivity Commission last month that its inquiry was timely.

In a barely veiled swipe at the Commerce Commission's decision, which is at odds with the Government's wishes, it said: "Greater consideration needs to be given to determining the degree of discretion/policymaking given to regulatory institutions."

Mr English dismissed suggestions the Government planned to limit the commission's independence, but Labour finance spokesman David Parker said the Government was suffering from sour grapes after the commission's copper pricing ruling.

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

- NZ Herald

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