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Minister applauds Project Probe rollout

Expanded broadband coverage of rural areas would create great opportunities for small businesses, schools and pupils in rural communities, Acting Rural Affairs Minister Damien O’Connor said today.

Mr O’Connor told Parliament that the announcement last week by colleagues Jim Anderton and Trevor Mallard about the launch of high-speed internet access to the Waikato, Taranaki, and Kapiti/Horowhenua regions was extremely welcome.

He said it was the first step in bringing broadband coverage to many rural areas. Eight other regions will follow in the next few months: the West Coast; Otago; Manawatu; Bay of Plenty; the greater Auckland area; Canterbury; Nelson/Tasman/Marlborough; and Gisborne/Hawkes Bay.

That expanded broadband coverage would create some great opportunities, he said.

Rural businesses and communities will have access to banking, business services and government agencies over the internet, as well as a wealth of information at their fingertips.

For rural schools, it means pupils will have access to a wider range of subject choices. Some of the most isolated places in New Zealand will be able to receive teaching in specialist subjects and teachers will have access to digital resources and online professional development.

Mr O’Connor said the announcement continued this government's investment in rural people.

Tens of million dollars of taxpayer money is being spent on this project, because high-speed internet access reduces isolation and breaks down barriers for rural businesses to access world markets. It improves educational outcomes and it improves access to health and social services.

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