their needs are simple and their communications are clear, so we always know where we are at with them
We woke this morning to the plaintive mooing of one of our purebred Lowline Angus cows.  Immediately we knew that something was wrong with the herd.

The old girls have developed a wonderful habit of letting us know what is going on with them.  If they are hungry or feel that they are lacking feed or water, then many in the herd give a particularly noisy call.  If one cow is seen to be getting things that they do not, then the rest set up a whinny of a din until we come and sort the problem out.   If a calf escapes to an adjacent paddock, then its dam will let loose, calling not only for the calf to come when it is told to, but us too.

In each case, the other animals in the herd will look expectantly towards the house until we hear their call and come out to fix what’s wrong.

This morning it was Hilda calling out to us.  She’d dropped her bull calf sometime after dawn and it had rolled under the electric fence and was helpless in the wetland.  The calf was separated from his dam and the rest of the herd.

Hadley the bull calf

Hadley the bull calf

By the time we got down to Hadley as he has now been christened, he was quite weak and cold.  Without our intervention, Hadley would have withered and likely died.

Funny animals are cows.  But their needs are simple and their communications are clear, so we always know where we are at with them.

A bit like many rural people really.  We just get on with doing the right thing by our families and livelihoods.  When something is not just and we cannot fix it ourselves, it is the government we look to and call upon for a solution.

A case in point is rural telecommunications where it is the government who have the responsibility to ensure that the basic needs of all are met.

In this technology-ridden world of instant communications, compulsory on-line services and a push for improved productivity, broadband has become a need, not a want.

Next year, the government will review the rules around the provision of telecommunication services to people in rural areas.  Those rules were set out in the old TSO (Telecommunications Service Obligation).

The TSO ensured that basic residential voice services were available to everyone, at the same price and with restrictions on the rate of price increases.

These obligations are basically the same as they were when established in 1989.  For their intended application, they worked well for rural people, assuring a standard of telephone service as good as what urban people took for granted.

However, the world has changed a lot since the TSO’s inception, particularly around Internet access.

Let’s hope that when the Universal Service Obligations are reviewed next year, that the principles established in 1989 will be re-applied for today’s technologies.

Back then, access to voice services, pricing and free local calling were the issues.  Today, the issues are around access to high speed broadband, pricing and quality of service.

Because we acted on her call, Hadley and Hilda are now protected from the cold wind and have rejoined the main herd.

Will the government now hear our call around rural broadband and take action to stop the chill wind of economics-driven policy maintaining a divide between rural and urban people?  Or do we have to create a whinny of a din too?