NBN plan takes pressure off councils

By Paul Hemsley

Boosted expenditure on the national broadband network (NBN) may have long term benefits for regional areas.

In NBN Co’s Corporate Plan for 2012-15, capital expenditure will be raised by $4.6 billion.

Included in the increase is $1.4 billion for the construction period and $3.2 billion for the operating expenditure.

Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) President, Genia McCaffery said the added expenditure will hopefully take the pressure off local governments from having to contribute expenditure from their own pockets.

Ms McCaffery said it will take pressure off isolated communities and will ease the burden on local government to provide health services.

“Hopefully long term, more equitable access to broadband services for communities across Australia will reduce pressure on councils,” Ms McCaffery said.

She said access to “speedy and reliable” broadband is critical for people who are physically isolated by distances between their closest neighbours and key community services.

“ALGA and our member councils are very in favour of the NBN because rural and regional areas have much poorer services in the technology area than the metropolitan colleagues,” Ms McCaffery said.

She said if communities in rural and regional areas are to grow, access to broadband services is critical.

According to Ms McCaffery, many capital cities are under development pressures and one of the ways of reducing that is to promote development in the regions, which cannot happen without strong broadband services for modern businesses.

“it’s really not about when we get the NBN but how fast we can get it to rural and regional areas,” she said.

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