I see tucked away in Thursday’s Herald the rumour that our new Commerce Minister Simon Power is thinking about having a look at the Commerce Commission.
He’s naturally being egged on by the likes of Telecom who would like nothing better than to behave in a shoddy way towards consumers without having a publicly funded body watching their every move.
I’d suggest that Simon had some more pressing issues at hand, and maybe he should be concentrating a bit more on protecting consumers rather than big business.
Being Commerce Minister doesn’t mean ignoring the people who buy the products that allow commerce to take place, in fact, in the current environment you’d think he’d be doing everything he could to encourage consumers.
It would be nice to think that big companies like Telecom, Progressive, Air NZ etc would treat consumers as a precious commodity instead of a bunch of silly tits who need to be relieved of their cash by any means possible. Obviously the longer they treat people with little respect, the more likely their are to disappear, so they do ultimately pay the price for their arrogance.
The problem is that in a very small country like NZ consumers often end up with little choice and competition so often ends up being a duopoly, where the two incumbents have a kind of gentleman’s agreement to jointly screw the consumers for every penny – Vodafone and Telecom jump to mind.
The problem usually occurs because politicians can’t help stuffing around with business and giving their favorites a helping hand every now and again, which creates the requirement for the Commerce Commission.
Naturally if Mr Powers was going to lift any regulation and barrier on business. If Mr Powers and his predecessors weren’t always throwing money at business whether it be through broad band subsidies, buying most of Air NZ, or suggesting they might bail out F&P, then I could understand him also planning to look at the Commerce Commission.
The playing field is skewed because politicians made it that way, therefore we need somebody aggressively enforcing consumers rights, and the Commerce Commission has been doing just that – hence the whining from business to have it and Paula Rebstock (who I think has been a successful crusader for consumer rights) axed.