FF backs RBI but is more required?
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.’’