When the government sold Telecom twenty years ago, they reassured us that free local calling would be protected under a “Kiwishare”. Now National is repealing it, with an SOP to the Telecommunications (TSO, Broadband, and Other Matters) Amendment Bill removing the relevant provisions “reflect that the KSO will not be operative following the structural separation of Telecom”. Note that there has been no public debate over this; National has done it out of the blue, by stealth. They’re even refusing to front up in the House to explain the amendments.
This will allow Telecom’s foreign owners to introduce American-style local call charging. And it has significant implications for access to information in this country. It should not be rammed through in this fashion,without consultation, without debate. The only reason for the government to do so is because they are afraid of that debate, and seek to limit the political price they will pay for an unpopular move with no benefits to New Zealanders.
This is how National operates: undemocratically. They’re making a major change to the structure of telecommunications in New Zealand, one which affects every single one of us. They should at least be saying why. Instead, we have arrogant silence.
Eddie: Perhaps more importantly, the Kiwishare prevents a foreign national from owning a majority of Telecom. It’s removal would mean there is no bar to Telecom falling entirely into foreign ownership.