FF backs RBI but is more re­quired?

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

With the close of bids for the $300mil­lion Ru­ral Broad­band Ini­tia­tive Fed­er­ated Farm­ers is stressing that ru­ral broad­band is crit­i­cal to all New Zealan­ders.

‘‘While we par­tic­i­pated in the ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est for the RBI process we have made a sub­mis­sion to the request for pro­posal in­stead of a bid,’’ Fed­er­ated Farm­ers telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions spokesman Don­ald Aubrey said.

‘‘ Fed­er­ated Farm­ers is pas­sion­ate about ru­ral broad­band.

‘‘We want our ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties to re­ceive the fastest broad­band speeds pos­si­ble.

‘‘We want it to go to the great­est num­ber of ru­ral peo­ple as quickly as pos­si­ble, as ef­fi­ciently as pos­si­ble and as cheap as pos­si­ble,’’ he said.

‘‘ What’s some­times missed is that ru­ral peo­ple are peo­ple too. We need the same ed­u­ca­tion, health and so­cial con­nec­tion as any­one else.

‘‘Broad­band is the next big pro­duc­tiv­ity and pro­duc­tion en­abler which will see sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic ben­e­fits but more so in ru­ral New Zealand as that’s the ge­n­e­sis for the econ­omy.

‘‘But it’s not just about us. This is crit­i­cal to all New Zealan­ders as it will en­able us to be be­come bet­ter farm­ers with ob­vi­ous eco­nomic spin-offs.

‘‘I think the Bay of Plenty Psa bac­terium out­break rams this eco­nomic point home,’’ he said.

‘‘It will also en­able sig­nif­i­cant re­gional eco­nomic devel­op­ment by re­mov­ing a pos­si­ble dig­i­tal di­vide af­fect­ing more than one mil­lion New Zealan­ders classed as ru­ral. The Ru­ral Broad­band Ini­tia­tive un­locks re­gional devel­op­ment by en­abling the coun­try to be on the same page as town.

‘‘ It just doesn’t make sense to us that ev­ery­one should live in Auck­land or that the Govern­ment should be spend­ing most of our money there. We are, how­ever, pleased that Fed­er­ated Farm­ers has the in­vest­ment level from $ 48mil­lion, as orig­i­nally pro­posed, to $ 300mil­lion al­though we’re still not quite con­vinced that this is enough money. With the bids in we’ll be able to see how far it goes.

‘‘ Our con­cern re­mains that the tar­gets in the RBI are just not am­bi­tious enough.

‘‘We look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing our work with the Min­istry of Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment and the Govern­ment to en­sure that the best pos­si­ble out­come for ru­ral New Zealand is achieved.

‘‘Our eyes just aren’t on to­mor­row but in set­ting ru­ral New Zealand up for the next quar­ter cen­tury and be­yond,’’ Mr Aubrey said.

On the an­nounce­ment of Tele­com and Voda­fone’s joint bid Fed­er­ated Farm­ers chief ex­ec­u­tive Conor English said: ‘‘It’s great that we are get­ting some ex­cite­ment around this process.

‘‘We are aware of sev­eral very good bids and we just want the best out­come for our ru­ral peo­ple and the rest of New Zealand.’’

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