Greens Applaud Internet Initiative
Moves by dairy giant Fonterra and subsidiary Fencepost.com to make high-speed internet available to rural customers have been welcomed by Green Party Agriculture spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street.
Fencepost has announced it is looking for partners to set up an alternative network to bring reliable high-speed internet and other services to the rural community.
"While applauding Fonterra's initiative," said Mr Ewen-Street, "we would, however, like to see Government financial support made available to enable rural subscribers who are not associated with the dairy company to be included in the scheme.
"Meanwhile, Telecom should be moving to bring the remaining party line subscribers out of the 19th century and into the 21st." Party lines in rural areas like the Marlborough Sounds mean that subscribers are not only denied access to the internet, but they also cannot use fax machines, answer machines, telebanking and cordless phones, said Mr Ewen-Street.
"It means they can't conduct private conversations with their lawyer, accountant, bank manager or anyone else!
"They are deprived of services that other New Zealanders take for granted such as late night calls and even an extension bell for when they are working in the garden. "Primary production contributes some 65% of New Zealand's foreign exchange earnings and it is time that rural customers had access to the same services of their urban cousins."