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Councils have critical role in Digital Strategy

MEDIA RELEASE

Councils have critical role in
Digital Strategy implementation

16 May 2005

Local councils have a critical role in ensuring communities reap the rewards of the Government’s Digital Strategy, Local Government New Zealand ‘s spokesperson Mary Bourke, Mayor of South Taranaki District Council, said today.

“We welcome the new Digital Strategy and its associated funding. Local Government New Zealand has been advocating that information and communications technology (ICT) skills need to be available to everyone and that ICT initiatives are linked to the broader economic and social objectives of councils.

“Today’s funding announcements support two programmes: one for community initiatives that will help build ICT skills in communities, the Community Partnership programme, and another to develop better broadband services, the Broadband Challenge Fund.

“With these programmes councils may be an applicant, a guarantor for community groups or a facilitating link between central government and community groups. The Community Partnership programme could enable initiatives to train people in ICT skills, make computers available in community facilities, tailor content to different needs and possibly even subsidise computers for homes," said Ms Bourke.

“The Broadband Challenge Fund is a welcome proposal for communities who were unable to benefit from either the existing broadband infrastructure or the schools-focussed Project Probe. Getting community access to broadband beyond current levels is important for economic development, health services and education.

“Local government welcomes the partnership approach that the government has stressed for the strategy and we await the development of funding criteria”.

“We hope that the Digital Strategy will enable funding for upskilling library and Citizens’ Advice Bureaux staff to support access to on-line government services. Increasingly government information is no longer available in hard copy and such a proposal would provide coverage to all of New Zealand, irrespective of whether individuals own computers themselves. This is a priority we would like to addressed by the Government”, said Ms Bourke.

For further information on the Government’s Digital Strategy refer to www.digitalstrategy.govt.nz or www.beehive.govt.nz.

Ends
Local Government New Zealand is the national voice of all 86 councils of New Zealand.

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