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The Government’s decision not to re-appoint Dr Ross Patterson as Telecommunications Commissioner may be illegal and a huge embarrassment for the government, Labour’s Communications and IT spokesperson Clare Curran said today.
The Government had clearly signalled it wanted to get rid of Dr Patterson who has maintained a strong independent role as the watchdog for the important telco industry.
“It is my understanding that the appointment of his successor - Stephen Gale - may have breached public sector requirements, specifically around the appointment process and description of the appointment. To that effect I will today request that the Auditor General investigate this appointment,” Clare Curran said.
“It has been abundantly clear that the government had been looking for a change. It is of major concern if the new direction taken by the telecommunications commissioner role is to focus on the interests of investors, rather than consumers.
“The government has an existing conflict of interest being an investor with its $1.35 billion commitment to ultrafast broadband.
“It should be scrupulously careful to avoid accusations of protecting its own interests at this time and reassuring the public that their interests are paramount.
“When an important decision such as this is made by government, it has a statutory responsibility to ensure it has followed correct process and provided applicants with appropriate information.
“This does not appear to have been the case in this appointment.
“Labour thanks Dr Patterson for his contribution to the role of Telecommunications Commissioner over the last five years, his independence and grasp of the wider industry issues. I look forward to the results of the inquiry into this matter,” Clare Curran said.