By: Willy Leferink | Sunday, June 17, 2012 7:57 PM
We hear a lot about politicians talking big about how to grow the economy. Usually it comes with “We're putting in zillions here and another zillion there.” Opposition politicians say that's either too much or too little.
As an employer, I crack up when any politician talks of Government creating jobs. As if they create jobs in the real world when we in business know it comes down to us taking a punt.
This spend-feast is best seen in the cities where political parties fall over each other to spend up large. Maybe it is rat-cunning politics, because that’s where the voters are.
If you detect a degree of grumpiness, it is because I had a day “off the grid” but I wasn't in the bush, up a mountain or far out to sea, I was close to home.
In the engine room of the Kiwi economy, I can't even use my mobile phone. It’s not as if we are ignorant of what's going on overseas. My daughter in Sydney gets 40 gigs of data, free minutes and even an iPhone for $69 a month.
Yes, Sydney has more people than New Zealand, but count up the dropped calls and the time we lose having to go back to our home offices, instead of using those ag tools we are told will transform what we do.
If we had what Sydney has, I believe it would save me easily a $100,000 a year.
That's not even counting what it could save in the purchase or selling of those day to day goods and toys we’ve all seen at Fieldays.
Getting fibre is good, but when you're in a ute on a back paddock needing to test soil, traipsing back to the office is more than annoying—it's a time waster.
The other thing about this brave new world of rural broadband is that it is shaping up to be not only costly, but far from rapid. In 2017 we may, if we're very lucky, get to be where Wellington was a few years ago. Do we deserve better? Heck yes.
It's not just us farmers, but our local companies, communities and schools.
My daughter is thinking about coming back to New Zealand, but do you think she'll put up with the tortoise when she's had the hare?
So we keep losing our young to the cities. Tell me, how do we grow our rural economies if Auckland keeps on swallowing everything? I've been told it will cost a rural school something like $300 each month just to connect to rural broadband. How many single teacher schools can afford that?
The current ‘solutions’ are no good for the likes of Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers’ meat and fibre chair. Her farm falls in a satellite shadow created by Mt Hutt, so there goes satellite.
She's also at the far extremes for mobile 3G, even with a yagi. A rain storm is enough to take down her connection.
Not much good in that and as for fibre, she can almost see the cabinet, but no one will hook her up. She has broadband of sorts, but it's not rapid.
For the past week Andrew Hoggard went back to the stone ages when his landline and email fell over. As his farm is in a cell phone black spot, he has no means of contact with the outside world except for post. We're not talking Fiordland here but Feilding, for goodness sakes.
My gripe is that cell phone reliability is not getting better, but we are expected to do more and more with them. Dropped calls waste time and cost us money, but there's no slack cut for us in rural areas.
What is holding us back is not just sluggish broadband but gaping holes in cellphone coverage. Take a drive out of any town, on hands-free of course, and you'll run into and out of holes like Swiss cheese.
We wouldn't stand for pot holes like this in the road, so come on Telecom and Vodafone, its time to pull finger.
If there are objectors to new masts, then call us at Federated Farmers for help. We need these masts for us to farm.
On a similar topic, don't you think it is time to have another big look rural broadband? To me wireless, supported by fibre, is the way to go. Come on Government, put rural first to get those exports pumping.
P.S. Don’t forget your Trading Among Farmers vote. If you are doing it by post or need to appoint a proxy, you need to get it back in the post early this week.
If you don’t intend to vote in person—and plan to vote online or through fax—remember, everything needs to be done and dusted by 10:30 am on Saturday 23 June. If not, you’ll have to pitch up to one of eight voting centres on the morning of 25 June.
Willy Leferink is Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson and an Ashburton Dairy farmer who loves his technology. For more information, contact 03 302 6891 or 021 796 037.