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Fox in the henhouse

Written By: - Date published: 5:06 pm, March 19th, 2009 - 19 comments
Categories: economy, national/act government - Tags: , , ,

The National Business Review has an interesting article online that suggests Simon Power’s recommendation of Dr Mark Berry to take over from Paula Rebstock as chair of the Commerce Commission is a sign the government is planning a radical deregulation of the competition landscape.

The piece even goes as far as to describe Dr Berry as “a fox in the henhouse”:

…Dr Berry has more recently been a consultant at Chapman Tripp, the law firm that has been a leading lobbyist for radical reform of the Commerce Commission.

A couple of weeks ago Mr Power hinted at changes to the commission’s mandate, saying he was “casting a fresh eye” on the commission.

This came on the back of a report by competition lawyer Grant David of Chapman Tripp, calling for change (NBR print, Feb 5, 2009).

Chapman Tripp claims, among other things, that current competition law is a luxury that New Zealand can no longer afford, and that the commission’s “overly interventionist approach” has increased costs of private enterprise at a time when they can least afford it.

Todd Energy’s Richard Tweedie also questioned the role of the Commerce Commission, calling for the new government to closely review the regulator’s priorities (NBR print, Feb 13).

The National government, it seems, is open to ideas.

Prime Minister John Key is understood to have said openly to market participants that the corporate landscape, in terms of competition, needs adjusting.

It’ll be interesting to find out how much truth there is to this. Simon Power was certainly very quick to announce a replacement.

[Hat tip: Kevin Welsh in the comments.]

19 comments on “Fox in the henhouse ”

  1. Tane 1

    Yeah, Rebstock resigned. I didn’t mention it because it’s pretty common knowledge. I don’t know anything about Berry myself, just thought it was an interesting article to find in the NBR which if true has some major implications.

    Hang on a minute, aren’t you banned?

    [lprent: now added to auto-moderation]

  2. vto 2

    Mr Bill sometimes Mr Tane’s comments make no sense anyway.

    NBR are usually pretty onto it in my minor experience. If so, then combined with the foreign investment/ownership rule changes, it may be time to prepare for a major influx of foreign capital (i.e. take advantage). For better or worse.

    Which throws up an interesting conundrum – do you play with the rules and take advantage because if you don’t then relative to others you will slip backwards, or do you refuse on proper grounds to play games and suffer?

  3. gingercrush 3

    I’m guessing you’re opposed to changes Tane because your reasons are that its likely to make it easier for foreign companies to buy New Zealand’s assets and businesses??

    Anyway, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Does this stuff have to go through the house or can it be taken up via Cabinet?

    • Tane 3.1

      That’s my opposition to the OIA changes – see the linked post. The Commerce Commission stuff, if true, would only encourage monopolistic behaviour, which is not good news for consumers.

  4. Pascal's bookie 4

    Mad old Roger Roundtable had a column last week I think, saying that the comcom was basically communist in concept as well as practice.

    At the time I laughed.

    I thought he was just trying to stay ahead of the curve. You don’t have to head to far out into the fringes to find folk talking about how the New Deal failed and FDR only made things worse.

    Roger, not satisfied with such milquetoast dissension from traditional accounts of history, wanted to stake his claim as opposing Teddy Roosevelt with a stirring defence of gilded age economics and the virtues of the robber barons.

    Afterall Carnegie, Rockefeller and Schwab were great philanthropists when all is said and done. Which is good, because great philanthropy was needed.

    Looks like I was wrong though, he just had the inside goss.

  5. Schwule 5

    Have you banned many Indians today?

  6. rainman 6

    Was it Chris Trotter on the Jim Mora show on Radio NZ the other day saying Rebstock had allegedly failed to “rotate her enemies” or some such?

    Wouldn’t put much past this current government…

  7. volnay 7

    Have listen to the man himself about his intentions and prospective


    • DeeDub 7.1

      Do you mean ‘perspective’?

      And I think you’ll find the key phrase is:

      “…and more importantly the interests of PRODUCERS…”

      It’s fairly obvious that his model of a ‘commission’ would be cheerleading for cartels and monopolies.

  8. John Dalley 8

    I give it less than a year, before Nationals true agenda comes out and there lead over Labour reduces significantly.
    Already they have pissed of all those “Blue Bloods” that live South of the Bombay Hills who listened to the spin emminating from John Keys lips.

    • gingercrush 8.1

      Aren’t you lot on the left saying Key’s agenda has already come out. What it is.He hasn’t revealed his true or he has revealed his true agenda?

      Key’s popularity and Nationals will come down to the economy ultimately. The policies they implement in the future; how effective Labour can be as an opposition; and how they handle a crisis in government.

      • Tane 8.1.1

        It takes a while for things to trickle out of the beltway and into poll results. Most people aren’t weird political obsessives like us who follow politics and the media religiously.

        • gingercrush

          Of course that is true. We still don’t know what the economy will do. Its hoped that we see a gain in GDP growth in 2010. Labour is still too early in opposition and thus haven’t adjusted well enough yet. That may change. National hasn’t had a crisis that will cause ripples yet. And for all the attacks on National’s policies. There is nothing yet that is going to get the electorate in a panic. Thus, its too early for any predictions of what is going to happen. Though both sides do it.

  9. One would hope they are planning a “radical deregulation of the competition landscape”. In fact why not do away with the CC as I argue here.

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