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Australian farmers connected: NFF

18 June 2007

TODAY’S announcement that Australia Connected will deliver metropolitan comparable high speed broadband services now – and into the future – is of paramount importance to Australian farmers, according to the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF).

“Importantly, the funding injection of some $1.8 billion will help ensure rural and regional Australians can keep pace with new technologies as they come online,” NFF President David Crombie said.

“We have long awaited a genuine commitment by the Government that delivers quality, affordable telecommunications for farmers and rural communities.

“The more remote businesses are, the more heavily they rely on information technology and telecommunications for their day-to-day operations.

“The choice of Wimax wireless technology, supplementing the additional ADSL2+ technology, to deliver services ‘from the exchange to the farm’ is vitally important, but also provides the opportunity for scalable high speed broadband into the future.

“The services, combined with other technologies such as satellite, will deliver high speed broadband across the entire nation – including to farmers in the remotest parts of Australia.

“The NFF has impressed upon the Government the need for Connect Australia to deliver tangible outcomes. The extra $358 million commitment – $958 million in all – by Government, along with the matching contribution of the new joint venture company, represents a major positive for regional Australia.

“With the farming economy generating $103 billion-a-year in production, $30 billion-a-year in exports and supporting 1.6 million Australian jobs, it is imperative farmers and regional communities have access to fast, effective IT.

“Farming’s ability to continue driving new efficiencies to remain internationally competitive – while accounting for 20% of all Australia’s exports – greatly depends on modern telecommunications tools.

“There is no issue more important to the long-term competitiveness of the farm sector than access to quality, affordable telecommunications services. Equitable telecommunications has been, and remains, a key strategic priority for the NFF and we have consistently emphasised the Government must deliver outcomes.

“The NFF will continue to monitor the implementation to ensure the commitment hits the ground, not just for today but into the future.

“We also look forward to the imminent announcement of Terms of Reference for the 2008 Regional Assessment Taskforce, which will trigger additional investment from the more secure $2 billion Communications Fund.”

[ENDS]

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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