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Beazley's broadband heist: banditry at its best.



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042/06 12 May 2006

Beazley's Broadband Heist - Banditry at its best

Kim Beazley would rob the $2 billion Communications Fund they opposed setting up and leave not one red cent available to future-proof telecommunications in the bush, Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, said today.

“After voting against the creation of a $2 billion Communications Fund and the $1.1 billion Connect Australia package, Labor now plans to rob the broadband bank to do what is already being done commercially in metropolitan and large regional areas and with targeted assistance in rural and remote areas,” Senator Coonan said.

“So under a Labor Government in 2008 when the first review of telecommunications services in rural and regional Australia is held, Australians living in the bush would be told there was NO money for mobile phones, NO money for Indigenous telecommunications, NO money for rollouts to support health and education initiatives, NO money to subsidise satellite phones and NO money to keep the bush in line with the city.

“This is Labor up to its old tricks - putting upgrades for telecommunications services on the Treasury credit card with no plan to pay it off. Rather than doing the hard work of developing a coherent plan for broadband, Labor wants to look for an easy fix. They would rob the bush and rob the future.

“In contrast, the Australian Government has invested $2 billion in a Communications Fund, the interest from which will be reinvested in telecommunications services in the bush for years to come.

“Instead of targeting taxpayer funds at technologically neutral rollouts in areas of need, Labor would close down the Communications Fund and pillage Broadband Connect to fund a white elephant network.

“This is the same Labor Party that two years ago wanted to spend $5 billion to provide dial-up Internet across Australia - a technology that is already redundant.

“And this new network that Mr Beazley heralded would bring broadband of up to 6 megabits per second already fails his Shadow Spokesperson for Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy's test for ‘true' broadband - at least 10 megabits per second (Conroy - 21 November 2005).

“Both Stephen Conroy and Kim Beazley are already too late, under existing Government policies, high speed broadband of up to 24 megabits per second is already available in Australia and the Government will shortly call for Expressions of Interest under Broadband Connect to deliver these types of services across Australia.

“Labor's plan is banditry at its best, robbing from the future to rollout an uncosted and untested network from a consortium that doesn't yet exist.

“Labor's plan would give NOTHING to the 2.6 million households that already have access to 8mbps cable broadband, NOTHING to the many Australians who have access to 24mbsp ADSL2, and NOTHING to the

hundreds of thousands of Australians who rely on wireless and satellite broadband.

“In contrast, the Government's $1.1 billion Connect Australia package will leverage significant funding from industry and other stakeholders to provide fast broadband services to Australia and still maintain the $2 billion Communications Fund to protect rural and remote Australia for the future.”

Page ID: 39176 Last Modified: 05/12/2006 http://www.minister.dcita.gov.au/media/media_releases/beazleys_broadband_heist__banditry_at_its_best