Election result could favour rural broadband

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Election result could favour rural broadband

A cursory look at the platforms of independent members of parliament would suggest a hung parliament could favour the prioritised rollout of broadband services in regional and rural Australia.

The balance of power looks to be held by four independent members and one Green member of parliament, Adam Bandt.

Two of those independent members, Tony Windsor (New England) and Rob Oakeshot (Lyne), represent communities (Armidale and Coffs Harbour) announced as early mainland sites for the rollout of the ALP's National Broadband Network

"Country Australia deserves to have the best access to services," Tony Windsor told the ABC yesterday. "We need equity of access to those services."

Windsor said he felt regional Australia was sold short when Telstra was privatised. "I don't trust anybody on that issue," he said.

Negotiations this week will be "one way of ramming that [message] home, to make sure whoever the Government is, delivers what they say they are going to deliver."

Meanwhile Bob Katter [pictured left, below] officiated the dig of the backhaul network in Mount Isa in February and has often commented on the decline of communications in regional Australia.

The web site for fellow independent Andrew Wilkie has been inaccessible, but as a potential member for Tasmania - the first site for the NBN rollout - he is expected to also see the value in the ALP's NBN plan.

The Greens have also noted a preference for the ALP's broadband plan, as well as fervent opposition to the ALP's internet filtering plans.

Ian Birks, chief executive at the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) said there will undoubtedly be a "focus on broadband in rural and regional areas" over the coming weeks.

"Broadband did become a mainstream and significant issue in this election," he said. "In several acceptance speeches, members recognised the broadband rollout as an issue in their electorate.

"Broadband will be a high order in negotiations over the next week or two," he said.

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