“Labor’s communication plan is like Robin Hood in reverse because it robs from the communications poor and give to the communications rich,” according to Queensland Nationals Senator Ron Boswell.
“On the one hand Labor are going to empty the $2 Billion Communications Future Fund put in place to fund measures to improve telecommunications services in regional, rural and remote areas and on the other hand they will set up ‘ongoing government funding to maintain and improve rural services’ (Queensland Country Life, p.3, 10/04/08),” Senator Boswell said.
“The $2 billion fund set up by The Nationals would have provided an ongoing revenue stream of around $400 million every three years to pay for telecommunications upgrades in remote areas that were not market viable and were unlikely to become so.”
“The telecommunications future fund offered regional Australia a real funding source that would maintain equivalent communications technology to their metropolitan counterparts. The scenario under the Rudd Labor Government will see these areas continually begging the Government to get the same services.”
“Labor’s communication plan has the potential to treat the 2% of Australians that live on 30% of the land mass as second class citizens.”
“Labor’s solution to providing “ongoing” services in rural areas seems to be calling for “tenders” and “submissions” (Queensland Country Life p.3 10/04/08). The question remains what are the tenders for? Where are the guidelines? and more importantly where will the money come from?” Senator Boswell said.
“The Rudd Government seems to think that communication policy is only about Broadband. Communications in Australia is far more than just broadband alone, it is about mobile services, television coverage, call costs, fixing blind spots, improving telephone exchanges and providing the infrastructure to give all Australians equivalent services.”
“The Nationals have always argued that the money gained from the part sale of Telstra should be reinvested in new communications infrastructure ensuring that all Australians enjoy equity and quality of life as a result of technology”.
“By spending the $2Billion Future Fund on broadband the Rudd Labor Government will lose a great opportunity to make needs based investment into rural, regional and remote Australia in the future”
“This short term policy shows that the Rudd Labor Government have their wires crossed on communications policy.”