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Judy Turner aims to give families some relief from telemarketers

2008-09-03 08:00:00

Overdue action to curb the intrusive and unsolicited pestering of householders by telemarketers - as recommended by the Privacy Commissioner - is now unlikely before the election.

The Beehive has yet to announce any regulatory initiative tackling the problem, and United Future has been obliged to defer draft legislation through lack of opportunity to promote a member's bill in the current Parliament.

The move being mooted is a national "do not call" register similar to that in the United States, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong.

This allows consumers to opt out of receiving telemarketing calls at their home or on cell phones.

New Zealand has been spared the worst excesses of telemarketing, partly because of its remoteness from other countries.

But physical distance has become less of a protection due to a substantial lowering of long-distance call rates and technical advances in automated calling machines.

Since the United States introduced a "do not call registry" in 2003, more than 145 million registrations have been made.

Australia's Do Not Call Register Act which was passed in 2006 allows householders to register their home phone or cell phone for three years and then re-register it, or remove it from the register at any time.

This makes it illegal, in the absence of consent, for telemarketers in Australia or overseas to contact a number listed on the register.

United Future's deputy leader Judy Turner has been advocating such a registry in New Zealand for more than a year.

Mrs Turner told The Gisborne Herald this week that she had almost unanimous support for her proposal to set up a register.

But the lateness of the session precluded her getting a Bill before Parliament before the House.

She said New Zealanders were sick and tired of being pestered by advertisers in their own homes at dinner time.

Quality family time was already scarce and having the telephone ring during dinner was an unwelcome invasion of privacy.

Good work, Mrs Turner!

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