Aussies to get high-speed broadband

The Australian Federal government has announced today that it has scrapped the tender process for private telecommunications companies to compete and build the next phase in the nation's future broadband network.

Peter Gladwell

The Australian Federal government has announced today that it has scrapped the tender process for private telecommunications companies to compete and build the next phase in the nation's future broadband network.

Instead the Federal Government will invest in a high-speed fibre octet cable broadband network using A$43bn of tax payers' money to create one of the fastest networks in the world, estimated to have a speed of 100 megabits per second for major cities and 12 megabits per second wireless broadband for country customers.

The remainder of the money needed to lay out this network across the continent making it available to 90% of the population is expected to be raised from private investment.

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This is a Federal Government initiative, according to the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, of which the government will own 51% of the company yet to be named responsible for carrying out this work.

Once the company has been established and the network is underway the government will sell off its majority share holding to allow private ownership.

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This is the largest engineering infrastructure undertaking this nation has seen since the building of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme and will take an estimated eight years to complete.

The government decided to scrap the tender process because of inaction from interested private sector operators and to get things rolling in order to create thousands of much-needed jobs and to help stimulate the economy.

Already sceptics have argued that the government has not put too much thought and planning into this and is purely taking advantage of creating political opportunism to upstage the opposition and communications giant Telstra.

The Prime Minister announced it is planning to commence work later this year and Tasmania has been chosen as the starting point.

The Reserve Bank has met today and decided to reduce interest rates by 25 basis points from 3.25% to 3%.

This is the lowest Australia's interest rates have fallen in 50 years and follows on from figures showing a slow down in the nations economy, retail and employment advertisements while unemployment continues to rise.

The nation's four major banks are not likely to pass on the full interest rate cut to their customers; in fact only the Commonwealth Bank of Australia has announced plans to pass on a token of around 0.10% while the others argue the cost of borrowing money restricts them from passing on the smallest percentage points.

The Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has been angered by the action of the four major banks and has urged them to reconsider but should they remain steadfast by their decision there is little the Federal Government can do to change their thinking.

Earlier in the week the Federal Government and the four major banks met to discuss and plan ways of helping those unemployed with mortgages.

It has been agreed to waive mortgage payments for the unemployed for a period of 12 months while interest only will added to their mortgage accounts.

This gives the unemployed time to find jobs without the added worry of banks foreclosing on their loans and repossessing their homes. This initiative has been applauded by the opposition but concerns are shown for those people who have taken out their mortgages with lenders outside the banking system.

Heavy rain and floods still cause major problems in Queensland and Northern New South Wales with the popular southern tourist areas south of Brisbane around the Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise copping several hundred millimetres of rain in two days with the added worry of King Tides forecast that could wash away beaches and property built close to the waters edge.

In the northern part of New South Wales Coffs Harbor has been flooded for the first time in decades and been cut off by rising rivers and floods. The rain will impact on the areas banana and pineapple crops and no doubt cause supply shortages and price hikes further down the track.

What else is new? In Victoria April has arrived with some very welcome rain and already there are signs of green shoots breaking through among bush fire-ravaged trees and grass land.

Isn't nature wonderful in how it heals its wounds?

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