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Dr Bill Glasson to Chair regional telco review.



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The Hon Mark Vaile MP Minister for Transport and Regional Services Deputy Prime Minister

Senator the Hon Helen Coonan Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

Minister Vaile’s Media Contact: Tim Langmead 0421 584 990

Senator Coonan’s Media Contact: Katherine Meier 0417 441 141

108/07 Monday 13 August 2007

Dr Bill Glasson to Chair regional telco review

The members of the first Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee (RTIRC) were announced today 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.

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.

Senator Coonan 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.

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

“The members of RTIRC have strong rural backgrounds and are very familiar with the challenges faced in regional and remote areas,” Senator Coonan said.

“The review will commence immediately and all stakeholders will have an opportunity to make a submission or speak directly with the committee during their consultations.”

Mr Vaile 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 even backhaul fibre capabilities.

“The committee will place particular emphasis on the under-served areas of remote and rural Australia.

“Labor will abolish the Communications Fund and waste the entire $2 billion in areas that the private sector has stated it will fund,” Mr Vaile said.

“Legislation protecting the Communications Fund from the Labor drain passed the House of Representatives last week and is expected to pass through the Senate this week. It will guarantee an ongoing income stream for future telecommunications improvements in regional, rural and remote Australia,” Mr Vaile said.