5 Jul 2012

Labour fears new commissioner may favour investors

6:58 pm on 5 July 2012

The Labour Party says it's concerned the appointment of a new Telecommunications Commissioner will prioritise investor interests over consumers in the Government's Ultra Fast Broadband Initiative.

Stephen Gale was on Wednesday named as commissioner replacing Ross Patterson.

Dr Gale has been an economic advisor to the Government and businesses on energy, regulation and competition, working previously for the Ministry of Energy, the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research.

Part of the role is to be an independent watchdog of the roll-out of ultra-fast broadband in which the Government has invested $1.5 billion.

Labour's communications and IT spokesperson Clare Curran says she's worried the new appointment signals a softer line on regulation.

"Our concern is that the new direction taken by the Telecommunications Commissioner may now focus more on the interests of investors rather than consumers.

"That's a real problem for the New Zealand public."

The Government says the commissioner's role is vital and it's confident it has found the best candidate.