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How will Labor future-proof rural telecommunications?

25 October 2007

“LABOR remains adamant they will remove rural Australia’s telecommunications insurance policy – the $2 billion Communications Fund,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President David Crombie declared today.

“In doing so, Labor abandons those Australians living and working in over 87%* of the country to fund their broadband policy, lumping rural families, communities and businesses with second-rate telecommunications services in the future.

“Labor’s plan is to ‘cash in’ the $2 billion Communications Fund – which guarantees rural people get ongoing upgrades – and spend this growing investment on a limited plan, which fails to provide any future telecommunications service upgrade protection for rural people.

“Across rural communities, businesses, even family needs, effective telecommunications, including broadband, landline and mobile service, are critical to everyday life.

“Labor’s plan elevates broadband for some, but to the exclusion of upgrades in future telecommunications technologies for rural people.

“Compounding the problem for rural Australia is once Labor’s metro-centric broadband policy cleans out the $2 billion perpetual investment, it’s gone for good. Rural Australia will be ‘left behind’.

“Labor has no plan for, and no alternative to, the future-proofing that is currently enshrined in legislation.

“If a future Labor Government wants to contribute to a broadband initiative, find the money elsewhere... don’t rob rural Australia’s telecommunications future to bankroll it!

“The Communications Fund’s sole purpose is to regularly implement solutions to telecommunications inadequacies across regional, rural and remote Australia.

“The NFF’s question is: Once the Communications Fund is plundered, how will Labor guarantee rural Australians get the next iteration of telecommunications technologies? Under Labor’s current plan, they don’t.”

  • Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics, About Australia’s Regions 2007 [ABS Cat 3218.0].

[ENDS]

See the NFF's 2007 Federal Election Policy Platform.

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