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.]