Victoria snubs broadband strategy

Victoria snubs broadband strategy

Victoria is the only state not to endorse the National Broadband Strategy, despite being the driving force behind rallying the Federal Government to act upon implementing a national broadband solution.

The National Broadband Strategy came about after the Government accepted 39 recommendations from an independent Regional Telecommunications Inquiry (RTI) report. It provided an assessment of telecommunications services in regional Australia, and made recommendations on arrangements to ensure that regional, rural and remote Australia could access adequate services.

As a result, the government developed a $142.8 million National Broadband Strategy focusing on the broadband needs of regional Australians.

Victorian Minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Marsha Thomson, failed to attend a ministerial meeting with other state and territories members, and Federal Minister for Communications and IT, Senator Richard Alston.

Thomson, an advocate of a national initiative, said in August last year that Australia needed a national strategy that set goals for the telecommunications industry.

A Victorian government spokesperson said the state wanted to see how an action plan would be implemented before endorsing the initiative. She denied it was a political manoeuvre.

Senator Alston was disappointed at the lack of support shown by the Victorian government.

He said there had been a comprehensive process of consultation with state and territory dovernments during the past 18 months. This took place through the Broadband Advisory Group process and the development of the National Broadband Strategy Implementation Group (NBSIG).

Multimedia Victoria, which attended the meeting on behalf of the Victorian minister, has significant expertise in broadband market development. The Fedreal government claimed it had shared knowledge with the organisation through numerous bilateral meetings over the past 18 months.

In May, representatives of the National Office for the Information Economy visited Multimedia Victoria to discuss the development of the National Broadband Strategy and solicit the collaboration of the Victorian Government.

The first meeting of the NBSIG in August 2003 included extensive discussion of the National Broadband Strategy programs and sought feedback from state and territory Governments to influence the design of these programs.

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