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Alexandra Gartmann appointment to the first Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee.



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Media Contact Cath O’Connor (03) 5032 4510 -ends-

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

ALEXANDRA GARTMANN APPOINTMENT TO THE FIRST REGIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDEPENDENT REVIEW COMMITTEE

John Forrest, The Nationals Federal Member for Mallee said today that he welcomed the appointment of Ms Alexandra Gartmann, local agriculturalist and Birchip Cropping Group CEO, to the first regional telecommunications independent review committee.

Mr Forrest said the members of the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee (RTIRC) were announced by the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Mark Vaile MP and the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator the Hon Helen Coonan, this week.

“The RTIRC will review the progress of the Australian Government’s upgrades of telecommunications services in rural Australia and its recommendations will determine how the interest earned from the $2 billion Communications Fund - around $400 million - will be spent next year,” Mr Forrest said.

He said the RTIRC will be chaired by Dr Bill Glasson, an ophthalmologist and former federal president of the Australian Medical Association, who was born in Winton in far western Queensland and continues to practice in rural and remote areas.

Apart from Alexandra Gartmann, other committee members include telecommunications expert from the National Farmers Federation, Mr Mark Needham; Northern Territory Law Society executive, Ms Josephine Stone, and the Mayor of the central west Queensland Shire of Barcoo, Councillor Bruce Scott.

Mr Forrest said it was encouraging that the members of the RTIRC have strong rural backgrounds and are familiar with the challenges faced in regional and remote areas.

“I understand the review will commence immediately and that all stakeholders will have an opportunity to either speak directly with the committee or make a submission during the consultation period,” Mr Forrest said.

The Communications Fund provides a guaranteed income stream to fund hard infrastructure and services for regional communities, such as additional mobile phone towers, broadband provision and backhaul fibre capabilities.

The committee will place particular emphasis on the under-served areas of remote and rural Australia, Mr Forrest concluded.

John Forrest MP The Nationals Member for Mallee

Phone (03) 5032 4510 Fax (03) 5032 9407