The week that was…in Kiwi (Agri)-Politics – Week 36

© Digital Trends

© Digital Trends

We have all heard that getting rural New Zealand onto broadband is one of the Government’s – pardon the pun – Key priorities. Too right! Until this week though I had no idea how big a problem this lack of rural broadband was. We employed a new Biosecurity Consultant last week. She is based in the Bay of Plenty, somewhere near Te Puke. And guess what? No broadband worth mentioning. Now we are not talking Reefton here, or Nightcaps, but Te Puke, for goodness sake. The place that proclaims itself as the kiwifruit capital of the world, no less. We are now having to route our new team member’s internet access through a hotspot on her mobile phone. Ridiculous. The sooner that can get sorted the better. And whilst I am not personally involved in the interim ‘sorting’, I am tuned in to the extent that I took particular notice of a 6 o’clock news item tonight.

Under the headline Unpaid ultra fast broadband workers down tools, TVNZ reports on the plight of some broadband installation contractors who have been waiting since July to get paid. As a last resort they have now downed their tools. As if that is not bad enough, two comments in the news item made the hairs in my neck stand up. Firstly, it seems that the problem is blamed on “new accounting software”. Secondly, the Minister responsible for this matter, the Communications & Information Minister Amy Adams, is quoted as saying “she is not aware of the problem.”

Oh boy – haven’t we heard that somewhere before recently?

Given that New Zealand is already behind the eight ball when it comes to modern communication fibre capacity, we don’t need this little caper developing into the next national farce. New Zealand desperately needs to catch up with the real world in this area. Slow internet connections are lethal for our global competitiveness, right across the entire primary industries sector.

© National Party

© National Party

May I suggest therefore that the broad band contractors should be paid via Novopay, the School payroll service.

The Minister of Everything has just managed to sort them out and has whipped them into shape. By getting Novopay to take this on, the taxpayer might get a chance to avoid the broadband contractors buggering off to Australia before the job is finished here.

As for the Communications Minister with the blocked ears…there are a couple of big Fonterra tanks somewhere in the middle of the island that need scrubbing out to make sure no more bits of plastic fall off them, causing AgResearch to run Botulism tests which turn out to be false positives. Now there is a practical communication problem that someone needs to pay close attention to.