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NZ Farmers Need Guaranteed Internet Access

5 May 2000


Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc) is calling on Telecom New Zealand and the Government to follow the Australian Federal Government's example and move towards funding and guaranteeing internet access in rural areas.

Chief Executive Tony St. Clair said that New Zealand needed to make a similar commitment if it wanted progress on both rural development and the knowledge economy.

"Many rural New Zealanders are locked out of the knowledge economy because of the low standard of telecommunication services in rural and regional areas. These areas will be left further behind in the global economy if Telecom and the Government do not improve the basic quality level so that every New Zealander has adequate Internet access," commented Mr St. Clair.

"If the Government is serious about boosting the number of durable and high value jobs in the regions, then it must move quickly to ensure rural people can use the Internet."

"The Government's telecommunication review, to be completed this September, will be too late if our Australian competitors gain significant cost and marketing advantages."

"The e-government initiative announced by the Government on Tuesday is a non-event for rural people, as so many of them cannot use the Internet because of the low telephone line standard."

"The Kiwi Share is no longer adequate or effective. Rural New Zealanders are rapidly being left behind with Third World Internet access and almost non-existent on-farm cellphone coverage. It will especially impact the educational opportunities of young rural people," concluded Mr St. Clair.

The Australian Federal Government has made a commitment to ensure that rural Australians have fast Internet access regardless of where they live. In a separate move, the Victorian State Government has announced $9m for public Internet access. This is in addition to a $170m Regional Infrastructure Development Fund aimed at rural and regional Victoria's inadequate telecommunications infrastructure.

ENDS For further information: Tony St. Clair 025-837-712

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