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Telecommunications Amendment Bill 2010

Telecommunications (TSO, Broadband, and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2010

Rahui Katene, MP for Te Tai Tonga
Friday 10 December 2010; 9.10am

The Maori Party is proud to support this bill and in so doing, to ensure the successful implementation of the Government’s policy programme for the telecommunications sector.

As other speakers have highlighted this Bill has three simple aims; to streamline the administration of telecommunications instruments; to consolidate the mechanisms for industry funding of telecommunications service and to establish a regulatory framework for the broadband networks that will be developed under the Ultrafast broadband Initiative and the Rural broadband initiative.

It used to be the days that cramming so much terminology into one sentence would have caused us to go running for the headphones to decode the lingo.

But if we go anywhere in Maori communities, nowadays, it is quickly obvious that telecommunications networks are rapidly becoming a vital means of keeping our whanau connected.

And if there’s doubt about the veracity of my claims let me list a few of the initiatives that we in the Maori Party regularly come across.

In Te Tai Tokerau Hone tells me that a group of six iwi in the North, are right on the brink of constructing a 200 kilometre regional backhaul fibre infrastructure connected between Auckalnd and Whangarei, and specially established to link rural communities together – or as the RBI describe them “non-urban areas”.

In Waiariki Te Ururoa tells me they are almost spoilt for choice.

In the Southern end of the electorate, Tuaropaki Communications has developed a superior reputation for its satellite communications.

In Whakatane, there’s the development of a regional backhaul fibre infrastructure as a result of a collaboration between Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and Ngāti Awa.

And of course, as would only be appropriate for the Tuhoe Nation, there’s the unique initiatives that come under the umbrella of Tuhoe Wireless.

Not to be outdone, Tariana tells me that Te Tai Hauauru is the leading ICT capital. Te Wananga o Raukawa is a major player.

They have almost completed the first stage of the telecommunications transformation of Otaki, through their innovative approach in linking key facilities such as libraries, schools, businesses, homes, iwi radio, marae, wānanga, and farms, all brought together under a fibre network.

They’re building on their success in Otaki by seeking to construct a fibre network up to Hamilton via Whanganui and New Plymouth, while at the same time looking to enhance the access network infrastructure and impact within Horowhenua.

In fact, so equipped are our whanau, hapu and iwi for the information age, that in the recent request for proposals for the rural broadband initiative, there were three specific proposals from iwi.

An excerpt from the submission by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Porou shows that they are behind the Rural Broadband Initiative and also highlights their need for a network upgrade:

“Ngati Porou rohe lies almost entirely in Telecom zone 4 and so cannot expect to benefit from Telecom’s network upgrades under their Operational Separation undertakings….we submit that the Government should view Ngati Porou rohe as a particularly high priority for investment under the Rural broadband initiative”.

And I would like to encourage the Government, that it’s about time that a robust telecommunications network will link in the Chatham Islands as well.

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party has a distinctive policy approach in telecommunications which might seek to encourage whānau to enter into commercial enterprises that build on their particular circumstances as a whānau.

And so when we see the enthusiasm with which our people approach telecommunications, we are clearly going to support anything which will enable their dreams and aspirations to be advanced.

Another one of the submissions that came forward for the Rural Broadband initiative, was Torotoro Waea which is an alliance that includes 24 members, including various iwi, and "industry partners". In a statement, Torotoro Waea promised to link not just rural schools - as required by the tender - but 1000 marae.

This is a particularly novel enterprise. Rural Marae can be considered as being in a better position to serve the community than rural schools given that there are no assurances that each and every rural school will continue to operate in the future.

And of course they are the virtual hub of all entities within Maori communities – the meeting place of whanau, hapu and iwi; the venue for economic development initiatives, for strategic planning hui; for annual general meetings; the perfect location for networking.

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party has looked into the so-called step-change that will be operational through the provision of broadband services in Aotearoa.

We have given particular consideration into the tender programmes, to see whether the fibre-to-the-premises approach; or the construction of an enhanced broadband infrastructure will affect Maori owned land.

We suggest that local Fibre Companies and Telecommunications companies who will be carrying out the work are legally required to consult with landowners prior to any work being done and as such, we would hope a commitment to consultation and accountability.

We agree with Torotoro waea that marae should be included as a priority for the initiative and will be looking to introduce amendments during the select committee stage to this effect.

And of course we were most interested that iwi submissions on the discussion document are in favour of the Rural broadband initiatives, and by default we would presume support for the programme of key reforms to the telecommunications sector, as outlined in this Bill.

But we leave nothing to chance. And we look forward to the select committee stage, to see and hear the impacts that whanau, hapu and iwi will bring to the table.

We support this Bill at this its first reading.

ENDS

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