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FFNZ Calls For Rural Telecommunication Taskforce

Federated Farmers Telecommunications spokesperson Tom Lambie said today that the federation wanted a Rural Telecommunication Taskforce to be set up as quickly as possible.

The federation was responding to the Final Report of the Ministerial Inquiry into Telecommunications released today.

"Rural users need a Rural Telecommunication Taskforce to focus the Government and the industry on providing real and immediate solutions to the crippling lack of adequate telecommunications in rural areas."

"It is disconcerting to see the inadequacy of analysis on the extent and scope of the Kiwi Share arrangements, and Telecom's responsibility," said Mr Lambie. "It is also very unfortunately that the Kiwi Share remains solely Telecom's responsibility, which prevents the optimal solution being found for rural New Zealand."

"The better definition of what ordinary residential services should include does offer some hope to existing rural users, but there is no timeframe for the much-needed service improvements."

Nor does it do anything to solve the severe problem no services to rapidly growing rural activities, e.g. dairying, viticulture, and horticultural expansion. For instance, farmers undergoing dairy conversions are offering good salaries for employees, but no one will live in houses with no cell or copper wire phone service.

"The Government has to recognise that rural areas are the major drivers of economic growth, and that the lack of telecommunication services is hindering rural development, and hence GDP growth."

"Bringing rural areas up to an adequate level of service is an imperative if New Zealand is to remain internationally competitive, and a first-world economy," Mr Lambie concluded.

ENDS For further information: Tom Lambie 026-113-161 Catherine Petrey 04-473-7269 (wk)




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