Conroy outlines NBN commitment to AIIA

Monday, 02 August, 2010

Conroy outlines NBN commitment to AIIA

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has welcomed the focus on communications, broadband and the digital economy being brought to the national election campaign by the Australian Government.

“We believe these issues will be central to the success of the Australian economy in the future,” said AIIA CEO Ian Birks. “A serious and informed public debate surrounding digital policy and the priorities for government should be front and centre in this election campaign.”

Birks’ comments came following Senator Stephen Conroy’s speech at the AIIA National Broadband Forum in Melbourne yesterday, where the Minister outlined the commitment of the Australian Government to the ongoing rollout of the NBN and foreshadowed today’s release of detailed NBN Footprint documentation by Prime Minister Gillard.

In his address to AIIA members, Senator Conroy made the government’s commitment to the NBN clear, outlining a well-crafted plan for ubiquitous high-speed broadband that is currently being delivered on time and to plan.

The detailed NBN Footprint announced by Prime Minister Gillard today provides a stronger degree of confidence in the government’s ability to achieve its aims, with the original objective of 90% fibre coverage to Australian homes now being expanded to 93%.

AIIA’s Forum also included a digital economy panel discussion by key leaders in the areas of financial services, electronic health and online education. The panel reinforced the concept that ubiquitous, high-speed broadband was an absolutely essential foundation for future transformational change in their sectors and for driving a globally competitive Australian industry.

“If we accept the broadband underpinning as work in progress then it is important to understand that the return on this investment through a vibrant digital economy will be more closely related to cultural change and skills transfer than to technology capability,” said Birks.

“This needs to be recognised in any implementation plan. The government has made a commitment to releasing a comprehensive plan for the digital economy later this year, should it be re-elected, and we hope that these issues would be addressed,” continued Birks.

“Understanding the potential of the digital economy and its alignment with a wide range of policy is a critical issue that must be addressed by the next federal government.

“The Minister is demonstrating a strong grasp of these issues; however, there is still work to do,” said  Birks.

“Many areas of policy that drive innovation, investment and the competitiveness of Australian business need to be coordinated to realise the genuine productivity benefits offered through the NBN and the Digital Economy. AIIA notes that the yet unannounced Opposition approach must also think 'beyond broadband' and is hoping to see the Opposition’s position on these issues shortly,” Birks concluded.

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