Labour’s ICT policy to carry out review after review instead of focussing on actually connecting New Zealanders to faster broadband would actually increase the digital divide.
That's according to Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams, making the claims in reaction to the release of the opposition's Connectivity Upgrade plans last week.
“Labour’s underwhelming ICT policy is to review the Ultra-Fast Broadband Initiative (UFB), review the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI), review Crown Fibre Holdings and review the Telecommunications Act,” Adams claims.
“While Labour suggests endless reviews and announces they want to leave rural communities to fend for themselves, the Government continues successfully rolling out one of the most transformative investments New Zealand has ever made.
“We are spending $1.35 billion rolling out UFB and a further $300 million providing faster broadband to the rural communities Labour intends to ignore."
Revealed by leader David Cunliffe, Labour says it will close the digital divide with its Connectivity Upgrade to ensure all New Zealanders can be part of a "growing, more connected economy and have the right to access quality broadband."
But while Labour likes to talk down the UFB and RBI programmes in the eyes of Adams, she claims the initiatives are the "envy of many countries all over the world."
“Only three years into the UFB programme, more than 420,000 households, businesses, schools and health centres are now able to connect to the UFB network in 29 towns and cities across New Zealand," Adams adds.
“And, despite Labour’s rhetoric, the UFB and RBI programmes are actually ahead of schedule, and uptake is in line with government expectations and overseas experiences at this stage of deployment.
“Labour has never supported the Government’s plan to rollout faster broadband to 97.8 per cent of New Zealanders. If Labour plans to scrap the UFB and RBI initiatives, they need to come out and say it.”
In reaction to Cunliffe's claims that "only Labour can deliver the digital future New Zealand needs", Adams claims Labour is also playing catch-up when they say they want to allow communities to use existing fibre connections to schools.
“Last year, the Government announced a change in policy to enable schools to extend their school internet to the surrounding area so students and families can access the internet from home," she adds.
"All libraries also get a fibre connection, which gives entire communities access to fast broadband.
“Labour is showing that after nearly six years in Opposition and three Opposition Leaders they still have no new ideas and precious little understanding of what is already happening."
To read Labour's Connectivity Upgrade proposals click here