Minister sacks Ministry for rural broadband

Amy Adams must start an independent technical audit of the delivery outcomes on the Government’s $300m rural broadband scheme after the Minister sacked the ministry responsible for its management, says Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran.

“Amy Adams is desperately trying to contain the growing fallout from her government’s mismanagement of rural broadband. She has sacked MBIE from the job and handed control of the next tranche of government funding to Crown Fibre Holdings.

“The sacking comes smack in the middle of a tender process for new funding for UFB and after all councils had pitched to MBIE for new money for rural broadband.

“This explains why MBIE went into shutdown mode this week and refused to meet with mayors anxious about their chances to secure funding to improve very low connectivity in their regions.

“It also occurs as submissions are closing for a major review of the Telecommunications Act turning the Government’s broadband strategy on its head.

“Amy Adams forced urgent legislation through Parliament in May to levy telcos to fund the next stage of rural broadband. She’s put that programme on hold and handed the management of it to a secretive Crown Agency which was set up to manage contracts, not to ensure equitable internet access and speeds for rural New Zealand.

“She’s trying to distance herself from accountability for rural broadband because mounting regional anger at low internet speeds and poor access is doing damage to the Government’s reputation in its heartland.

“Today’s announcement is effectively an acknowledgement that rural broadband has failed. The big problem is how long rural households and businesses have to wait to get better internet,” says Clare Curran.