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Curran: National Pinches Labour's Broadband Policy

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Clare Curran
Clare Curran

The National Government has back-flipped on its pre-election broadband policy in favour of a policy based on the previous Labour Government's Broadband Investment Fund (BIF).

Labour spokesperson for Communications and IT Clare Curran said National had completely shifted from its pre-election policy of a single, regulated utility model for delivering broadband to one that is regional, open and contestable.

Labour's Broadband Investment Fund was set up in 2008 to promote industry investment in New Zealand's broadband infrastructure to provide a pool of contestable funding for a major plan to increase New Zealander's access to high speed internet for new communities, existing cities and rural areas.

The BIF received widespread support and encouragement from the wider communications technology industry.

"Questions need to be asked. Firstly, why didn't National campaign on this model before the election and why has it back flipped?

"Secondly, why is the Government setting its sights so low for private sector investment by only requiring a dollar from the private sector for every dollar of its $1.5 billion investment, when Labour policy would have required up to double that?

"That is selling the project short, with the taxpayer not getting the best bang for their buck.

"Another important question is: What sort of regulatory framework would underpin the establishment of the new Crown Owned Holding Company given the Commerce Commission has been severely weakened by the resignation of its chair Paula Rebstock?

Ms Curran said Labour was also keen to know whether the Broadband scheme will include companies beyond traditional Telcos, such as electricity lines companies, to deliver broadband.

"Labour will be examining the policy further and believes that all New Zealanders are entitled to ask whether this policy will deliver faster cheaper broadband to 75 per cent of homes, when it will deliver it, and whether it provides the best value for money.

"The Government policy paper announced today is a complete backflip on its pre-election policy. It looks a lot more like Labour's policy and New Zealanders are entitled to ask why," Clare Curran said.

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