New to the homepage team is Aimee McIntosh and for her first episode of homepage, Aimee looks at how the internet affects farmers across Australia and whether or not the Federal Government's plans to bring broadband access to more Australians will make a difference to farming communities.
The 2006 census revealed that 60% of Australians have the internet connected to their homes and over half of these are connected to broadband. The Federal Government's recent announcement of a plan that will see 99% of Australians able to access broadband is hoped to boost business and productivity across Australia.
Aimee has fond memories of growing up in Bourke and first connecting to the internet. She recalls:
"Growing up in Bourke I remember when one of my friends got internet at their house. We would all come over to check emails and the surf the net, but the thrill pretty quickly wore off when we decided we didn't want to wait the ten minutes for a page to load. Since leaving Bourke and experienceing faster internet I don't have the patience to wait 60 seconds for a page to load. It seems obvious that the internet will not be popular among farmers as long as they only have access to dial up."
In order to gauge how people in regional Australia use the internet, Aimee speaks to two farmers about how the internet is used in farming practice and what effect access to broadband would have on their lives.
Ian Cole is an irrigation farmer in Bourke, New South Wales, who says the internet plays a crucial role in his daily life as a farmer and that access to broadband would make a huge impact. Ian tells Aimee the slow speed of his current internet connection hinders what would otherwise be much faster work and that broadband would be a welcomed upgrade.
Jim McIntosh is a dairy farmer in regional Victoria who says access to the internet means he can stay in touch with bankers and business that he would otherwise only see once a year. Jim adds he uses the internet to stay in touch with family who live in other parts of Australia.
Aimee learns that while Ian and Jim depend on the internet for different things they both agree that they couldn't image their lives without it. Aimee concludes that broadband access will enhance business and communication for farmers and their families and help bridge the gap between urban and rural communities.
homepage is produced in the studios of 2MCE Bathurst and is distributed nationally via the Community Radio Network. The program is made with financial assistance from the Community Broadcasting Foundation. You can listen to homepage on 2MCE via our streaming at http://www.2mce.org.