Our current political landscape is a bit like the Saddle Rd, spectacular views, but a bit bumpy, Sue Berry of the Dannevirke Chamber of Commerce said at a meeting with National's finance spokesperson, Amy Adams on Wednesday night.

And Adams was ready to talk about the economy when she fronted at the Chamber of Commerce meeting, but she became locked in a fierce debate over the lack of rural connectivity in Tararua and had to defend her government's rural broadband rollouts.

Mel Poulton heads the Connect Tararua governance group and told Adams she has a "very robust" understanding of connectivity in this region.

National's finance spokesperson, Amy Adams, speaking on the economy at a Dannevirke Chamber of Commerce After 5 evening on Wednesday.
National's finance spokesperson, Amy Adams, speaking on the economy at a Dannevirke Chamber of Commerce After 5 evening on Wednesday.

"May I suggest National failed to understand connectivity before it rolled out it's rural broadband package," she said.

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"Opportunities were missed. Your rural broadband initiative 2(RBI 2) failed rural New Zealand and I would like to encourage National to take the opportunity to understand rural mobile and digital connectivity. We would like you, as previous telecommunications minister, to work with us to develop what is really needed to push along rural connectivity."

Poulton said there was a great focus on population density with the rural broadband rollouts, but a real fail for rural New Zealand.

"The current RBI 2 rollouts, using Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs), doesn't get into cattle yards, loading races, or dairy sheds and doesn't help us to embrace technology to run our businesses," Poulton said.

"It isn't allowing rural towns and businesses to grow and thrive."

Adams said when the National Government start to roll out the rural broadband the aim was to get it to as many people as possible.

"I know you are frustrated, but what I do feel good about is how we advanced this," she said.

Following the meeting, Adams told the Dannevirke News, she agreed rural broadband hadn't gone far enough.

"But I'm proud of what we achieved, but it's not right if people haven't got access," she said.

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"Dannevirke is getting ultra fast broadband, faster and sooner, because of the work the National Government did."

National invested $2 billion in the rural broadband rollout, with a public, private partnership with Spark, Vodafone and Chorus putting in as much again.

"I think it's unfair to say it's failed, because there has been a huge step forward," Adams said.

"Getting technology addresses that tyranny of distance. I understand the frustration of people because technology enables people to do so much more."


Addressing the meeting, Adams defended our farming community.

"I don't believe farmers are some sort of environmental terrorists," she said.

"The farming sector has been scape-goated. Yes, farming has a role to play, but alongside others. The dirtiest waterway in New Zealand are in urban areas, not rural."

"Most farmers are great, with the occasional cowboy, but if we don't stop demonising farmers ...

"We forget the rural sector's influence on our country's economy."

This is the first time in opposition for Adams and she said didn't "like it very much."

Parliament's recess is crucial to getting out and meeting communities, Adams said.

"The less time you spend in Parliament, the better," she said.

"The value of getting back into the real world is you hear what is going wrong or right in communities."

Adams said the reason National had a focus on the economy was they understood the need for a strong economy to be able to do what they wanted.

"Getting a good income coming in and jobs is good for families and at a government level, a strong performing economy brings in more taxes and allow us to spend more," she said.

"The Labour Government should think very carefully about spending money, there needs to be a real responsibility to have a strong economy going forward and that's what National left this present government.

"Hardworking businesses came through the global financial crisis and built our economy, but the Canterbury earthquakes cost 20 per cent of our GDP and were massive economically. But we came through them and our economy was described as a rockstar. We were growing at between three and four per cent."

Adams warned the Labour Government should earn it before they spent it.

"If you are spending more than you are earning, it doesn't work," she said.

"Eventually, you've got to pay that sucker back. We left the country with a pretty good surplus, debt was down and tax revenues were growing. But Labour is looking to borrow $17 billion more than National planned and next time we get a fiscal shock there will be less room to adapt."