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Remote Australia applauds timed local call rebate



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19 November 1998 III

NR 1/98 National

REMOTE AUSTRALIA APPLAUDS TIMED LOCAL CALL REBATE

FARMERS’ F e d e r a t i o n

A U S T R A L I A

The National Farmers’ Federation has welcomed the Government’s recent announcement o f rebates for remote telephone users who are currently charged at the “pastoral call rate" (25 cents for each 4.5 minutes). - |io J k ,

Chairman of the N FF's Farm Business Management Committee, Ian Macfarlane, said that remote telephone users have been paying for their isolation in higher telecommunications costs for years.

“The Federal Government’s decision is the first step in recognising that people living in remote Australia have a great need for communications facilities due to their remote locations", Mr Macfarlane said.

“Senator Alston’s announcement o f a maximum $160 rebate for those on timed pastoral call rates is a step in the right direction and recognises that distance is largely irrelevant in the pricing of telecommunications services today", he said.

“This is evident in the dramatic fall in international telephone call pricing in recent years, where Australians can now call anywhere in the world for less than half what they paid twelve months ago”, Mr Macfarlane said. . -

“The NFF welcomes this initiative which will reduce the costs o f doing business with local and regional business centres for people living in remote locations. It will also make access to a broader range of improved telecommunications services such as facsimile machines and the Internet more cost effective", he said.

“Unfortunately the decision does not go far enough in delivering the comparable benefits o f untimed local calls that all other Australians enjoy. Timed local calls still remain in remote areas and it makes telephone and facsimile use expensive as well as limiting the use o f features such as untimed local call access to the Internet” .

“The NFF would hope that this announcement is the first step towards extending local call zones to replace the pastoral rate so that all Australians enjoy equitable access to telecommunications services”, Mr Macfarlane said.

For further information:

Robert Ceramidas (02) 6273 3855 0418 627 976

Ian Macfarlane 07 4639 7302 (bh) 07 4638 5551 (ah)

NFF House 14-16 Brisbane A venue barton act 2600

PO Box E1C Kingston ACT 2604 AUSTRALIA

Tel 61 6 273 3855 Fix 61 6 Z73 2331