According to BHP senior media relations advisor Michael Buzzard, the Government approached the mining giant and encouraged it to participate in the initiative. BHP accepted the offer, and so decided to spend $5 million on providing internet access, PCs, printers and software for its 20,000 employees for under $10 per month each, he said.
The BHP contribution to the initiative will also include installation of several community-based internet kiosks, which Buzzard said will be made available to non-BHP employees.
The details of BHP's contribution have not yet been finalised, but Buzzard said the company was in discussion with "a number of organisations" including possible partnerships with various hardware, software and ISP companies.
The pilot of the program was likely to commence in early 2001 and would last for one year, Buzzard said, after which time BHP would remain "open minded" about future possibilities. All 20,000 employees would be included in the pilot, he said.
Buzzard said that prior to the Government's invitation, BHP had not articulated a program such as this, but had been considering various possibilities for enhanced employee communication. The Rural and Regional Renewal initiative gave BHP the "impetus" to set its employee technology scheme in motion.
The Government will not contribute any money to the program, he said.
The office of the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, John Anderson, which initiated the Rural and Regional Renewal program, was unavailable for comment.