One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson has called on the Australian government to back the extension of the Hawaiki Cable to Norfolk Island.
The cable system is slated to connect New Zealand, Australia, American Samoa, Hawaii and the west coast of the US mainland.
In September, Norfolk Island Regional Council called for government support to extend the cable system to the island.
Hanson has written to communications minister Mitch Fifield in the wake of a visit to the island. Currently Internet access on the island is provided via satellite. Island residents are slated to be connected to the National Broadband Network via NBN’s Sky Muster satellite service.
In her letter, Hanson said that there is a “very small window of opportunity” for the island to be connected by a branch of the Hawaiki cable system if the federal government “is able to assist either financially or through an underwriting agreement” similar to that covering air travel to and from Norfolk Island.
In January, the federal government announced that Air New Zealand had won a tender to provide air services to the island.
“I am aware of private sector interest and capacity to fund the connection of the cable, however they are seeking some guarantee that the connection will be supported, rather than excluded by the NBN presence on the island,” Hanson’s letter states.
“Initial evaluation of the underwriting option indicates a possible win-win for the island and Australia, not only would the connection enable greater economic development opportunities for the island, generating local revenues to reduce financial dependence upon Australia, there are many services that would benefit the private and public sectors and ensure full operational capacity, the letter states.
Hanson is a member of parliament's joint standing committee on the National Broadband Network. Although she lost a Senate vote on her membership of the committee, the government gave up one of its spots for the One Nation leader.
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