Telco Levy Bill Completes First Reading

by Desk Editor on Friday, May 22, 2015 — 5:29 PM

The first reading debate on the Telecommunications (Development Levy) Amendment Bill has been completed under Urgency.

Communications Minister Amy Adams said New Zealand was an isolated country with a unique geography which made the roll out of fibre broadband challenging.

Good progress had been made on fibre and other high speed broadband in rural areas. The levy would be extended as announced in March through this legislation. It would be used to fund infrastructure that was not commercially viable which could then be used providers to provide internet access, Ms Adams said.

The bill did not change the levy or the broadband roll out rules it would just extend it in length. She believed it was too small for ISPs to increase charges and also drop charges if it was axed.

Labour’s Claire Curran said a levy was a tax and while not all levies were bad, the Government had promised no new taxes.

It was inevitable the tax would increase costs to consumers and the minister was guilty of a “scam” which should be investigated by the Auditor-General.

The bill completed its first reading by 89 to 32 with Labour opposed.

MPs immediately began the second reading debate.

The following bills stills have to be debated under the Urgency motion passed following yesterday’s Budget.

• the introduction and passing of the KiwiSaver Budget Measures Bill

• the introduction and passing of the Border Processing (Arrivals and Departures) Levy Bill

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