The MSM, especially TV One and TV 3′s 6pm news, reported on Cunliffe stumbling over the word Chorus in his first question yesterday to PM Key.
They failed to significantly report on the substance of Cunliffe’s question, that exposes Key’s prevarications on the costs to Kiwis of his Ultrafast Broadband plan.
Cunliffe lays out the importance of his question in a press release:
Kiwis will pay $150 more a year for their broadband than they should thanks to the National Government – and John Key knows it, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe.
“John Key’s government is planning to keep the price of copper broadband services artificially high because it has a political problem and is trying to make its ultrafast broadband plan more attractive to consumers.
“The Commerce Commission’s draft determination would have cut prices for broadband by up to $12.50 a month. But the Minister’s proposals override the independent regulator, and would keep prices higher for longer.
“John Key’s claim in Parliament today that “under every scenario consumers will pay less” is just plain wrong. Every scenario put forward by the Government in its discussion document would see Kiwis pay more than they would under the Commerce Commission’s plan.
“This is corporate welfare. National is once again propping up big business at the expense of Kiwi families.
Cunliffe also points out the crony capitalism involved in Key’s slippery deal:
“Embarrassingly, John Key’s former boss at Bankers Trust, Gavin Walker, is the chair of Chorus’ UFB Steering Committee. Given the $600-million estimated subsidy involved, that is just too close for comfort.
Following this question and Key’s comments on it later yesterday, Paul McBeth and NBR staff report on the dodgy way Key operates, getting advice by phone from Chorus Chair and passing it off as official advice. (h/t Penny Bright)
At question time in Parliament today, Prime Minister John Key defended comments that Chorus may go broke if the Commerce Commission pressed ahead with plans for a sharp cut in the regulated price on the copper lines, saying Cabinet had received advice based on commercial and in-confidence briefings between Chorus and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
In his post-Cabinet press conference yesterday, Key said he could not recall where the advice had come from.
He said today that those briefings probably would have come after he received a phone call from Chorus chair Sue Sheldon in December last year when she shared her view on the impact of the regulator’s draft decision and gave the government “some understanding of the issues they would face.”
The article goes on to point out the significance of Cunliffe’s question, in relation to the manipulations of Joyce and Key around the comparative pricing of copper wire and brroadband connections.
He was answering the first question directed to him by the newly elected leader of the Labour Party, David Cunliffe, who asked if Key still believed Chorus would “go broke” if proposals to drop the price of copper services in line with Commerce Commission recommendations went ahead.
The new Labour leader also asked why then-ICT Minister Steven Joyce did not include base copper pricing in UFB contract negotiations.
Cunliffe’s choice is significant because he was Communications Minister in 2006 when he surprised Telecom by forcing operational separation between its core infrastructure and competitive telephony and broadband services in a move that saw prices to consumers drop.
Cunliffe is expected to campaign heavily on that record in the context of the current spat over how to price copper services in a way that doesn’t undermine the government’s desire to see consumers switch quickly to the fibre-based ultra-fast broadband network, which the government is underwriting.
So there may be more to come on this story. I hope the MSM are paying attention.
[update] Press release from Coalition for Fair Internet Pricing.
ASX & ASIC Asked to Investigate Chorus Insolvency Speculation
Ongoing speculation of a risk that Chorus Ltd (CNU) may become insolvent has led New Zealand’s Coalition for Fair Internet Pricing to ask the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and the regulator, the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC), to inquire into the company.
A spokeswoman for the Coalition for Fair Internet Pricing, Sue Chetwin, also Chief Executive of Consumer NZ, said today: “We continue to be concerned that there may be information circulating in Wellington, as the Prime Minister has confirmed, about the financial viability of Chorus Ltd under the Commerce Commission’s draft determination that is not available to its shareholders or to the broader market.