On Thursday 9 July Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy addressed an AIIA lunch in Sydney on the topic of “How the NBN will fuel Australia’s smart economy”.
Conroy’s opening remarks made it immediately apparent just how fully committed he is to the National Broadband Network as a key enabler for the future of the Australian economy.
He said the adoption of the digital economy needs to be promoted across the whole economy as a key enabler for the future. Broadband-enabled new digital services will further ICT innovation and the ICT industry needs to show the rest of the community how to capitalize on the many and varied opportunities arising from this initiative.
Conroy said that the ICT industry in Australia employs more than 100,000 people and that the Government has acknowledged the importance of this industry by establishing an IT Innovation Council. This Council is to be chaired by John Grant, Managing Director of Data#3 and AIIA National Board Chairman. Conroy stressed that now is the time for every person to understand that they have much to gain from the broadband rollout and he again made the point emphatically that the ICT industry must deliver now –the government is doing what it can to encourage innovation and needs the industry to support it.
As part of the later panel discussion Conroy indicated that negotiations with Tasmania have resulted in a memorandum of understanding being signed. Tasmania is now ‘shovel ready’, according to the Minister, who complimented the Tasmanian Premier, David Bartlett as someone who ‘gets’ the significance of the NBN.
Conroy explained that some international telecommunications firms are establishing research laboratories with education institutions in the Australia as a direct result of the announcement of the NBN. He made the further observation that 60% of the fibre being rolled out in the world is in our region, and that Australia cannot afford to fall behind this pace.
In response to a question about Government’s own plans to use the NBN for improved services to citizens, Conroy responded that implementation of the Gershon Report recommendations is intended to transform and consolidate processes; that a key health initiative will shortly be announced and that many education initiatives are well underway. He acknowledged a need for greater coordination and consolidation with the intention being to progressively ‘bring government into the 21st Century’.
Conroy volunteered that in his opinion, Local Government is the tier of government that ‘really gets it’ the one which is ‘desperate to roll it out’.