Dunne offers to mediate in Chorus snag

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 08:47 14/12/2013

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United Future leader Peter Dunne says he is open to the idea of brokering talks over copper broadband pricing.

Dunne said he was open-minded to the idea that he could play a role in trying to bring people together, despite previously stating the Government should respect the independence of the Commerce Commission.

His comments provide a fresh hope that an amicable solution could yet be found to the crisis surrounding Chorus and the question mark hanging over the company's ability to fund the construction of the ultrafast broadband network.

Telecommunications Users Association chief executive Paul Brislen welcomed the prospect that Dunne might play peacemaker.

"A neutral third party trying to drive things along is well worth considering and Peter Dunne has proved himself able to do that sort of thing in the past," Brislen said.

"We would be very supportive."

Dunne said he planned to get an update from "some industry participants" early in the new year and was open to discussing with them what further steps could be taken.

"I think there is probably a little too much heat around at the moment and once everyone has had a long summer to think about things there might be scope for making progress."

The Commerce Commission has ordered Chorus cut its wholesale prices by 23 per cent from next December but Chorus has asked for a review, which the commission has admitted could take "some years" to complete.

Legal uncertainty surrounds whether the prices that result from the review could be backdated.

Chorus, Orcon and CallPlus have all said they would be open to discussions to head off what Communications Minister Amy Adams warned could be years of uncertainty.

Adams on Thursday ruled out the Government brokering talks itself, saying that, if companies wanted them, they would have to make that happen themselves.

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- Fairfax Media

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