Labour has called on the govermnment to halt all decisions on the broadband roll-out because the man responsible for designing it is at the centre of anti-competitive findings against Telecom which resulted in it being fined $12 million in the High Court yesterday.
Labour Communications and IT spokesperson Clare Curran says a cloud now hangs over the whole of the government’s broadband scheme as Bruce Parkes was named at the centre of the so-called ”two tails” case.
”The Government is trying to legislate for a 10-year regulatory holiday for Telecom, and Mr Parkes has been involved in the design. An independent review must be urgently conducted of both the process and system of the rural broadband initiative (RBI) and the Ultrafast Broadband scheme (UFB,” she says.
Curran says the review should be undertaken by an international expert as the New Zealand industry is too involved and inter-connected on these issues.
I think it is highly regretable that Labour have attacked a public servant in this manner, on the basis of something he did ten years ago when working at Telecom. Bruce worked diligently for Telecom when he was there, as his job was to get favourable outcomes for Telecom. So through my work at InternetNZ, I often oppossed Bruce and his arguments at fora such as the Commerce Commission.
But he left Telecom, went out to work for Contact Energy, and also became a board member of Citylink. And some time after that got hired by the Chief Executive of the MED to head up their telecommunications section. At the time I commented I thought it was a good appointment – poachers often make the best gamekeepers. People are hired to do a job to the best of their ability, and it is silly to assume you know a person’s views on the basis of their previous jobs.
I am glad Telecom got pinged $12 million for their behaviour over data charges. I recall the days when they charged $1900/month for a product which today is under $100/month. This is why things had to change, and artly resulted in the operational separation of Telecom.
But to suggest that because of something that happend over a decade ago, that Bruce has some how contaminated the UFB and RBI process is unworthy. I’ve been critical of aspects of those processes myself, but smearing a public servant who can’t defend himself is not appropriate behaviour.
The PSA normally publicly defends public servants who get attacked by politicians. Why have they not spoken up on this case?