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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 September 2010) . . Page.. 4321 ..

Canberra Connect’s website. Right now, the ACT government is using the online environment, along with Flickr, Twitter and YouTube, as a significant component of the community consultation it is undertaking as part of the Canberra 2030 conversation. Many thousands of Canberrans have already logged onto the website to join a blog discussion regarding the kind of city we want to be in 2030 or to complete the online survey.

E-government is an area of rapid growth and great potential. That is why the ACT government is investing in the work being done by the e-government cluster at NICTA, right here in Canberra. E-government applications are a means of reaching out to people who had traditionally not had their voices heard by government and a means of delivering services more effectively and more efficiently. Pursuing and investing in e-government does not mean abandoning more traditional methods of reaching out to people. It means adding to the way in which governments and people can talk to each other.

Canberrans are already more likely than Australians anywhere else in the country to be internet users. Eighty-six per cent of us, at last count, were internet users. Not surprisingly, it is younger Canberrans who are most likely to use the internet. But if Australia is to take its place in the digital economy, it needs to act now—and decisively. That is what the Gillard Labor government is doing. Overwhelmingly, I think Australians appreciate this.

However, Australia is not the head of the pack when it comes to broadband. That honour goes to Korea, which enjoys the highest proportion of households with internet and broadband internet access, at more than 94 per cent. I saw evidence of that myself when I was in Seoul, particularly in relation to e-health. I witnessed for myself the transfer of records over long distances between doctors who were separated by many miles but who were discussing the health of particular patients and how this e-health helped them come to a conclusion about ongoing treatment of those patients. It was critical at that time. Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom enjoy similar high levels of connectivity.

We cannot stand still. The Abbott federal opposition would have us stand still—or at least move very slowly, almost as slowly as the internet speeds they were offering under their “no frills” alternative to the NBN, a kind of home brand or Lib brand variety. Australia and the Independents say, “No, thanks.” I suspect that the residents of Gungahlin will also say, “No, thanks,” and will respond well to this historic opportunity that they have to be amongst the first Australians to be connected to the NBN. I commend this motion to the Assembly.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (3.54): I thank Ms Porter for putting the motion on the notice paper, because access to the internet and high speed internet is, of course, a very important issue. I reflect on the history of broadband in the ACT and the government that put it here and put the ACT on the map with the largest trial in Australia—that, of course, is the former Liberal government. We started work in Aranda. We did the trials, we put in the nodes, we connected to the homes, and we said, “Yes, this is a good thing.” We did it more than a decade ago. The sad thing is that, since coming to office, the Labor Party has done so little to ensure that broadband has been rolled out in Gungahlin.

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