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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (2 May) . . Page.. 1366 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

the way that they needed to, to get better access to government services, facilities and information as well as services, facilities and information provided by the private sector. We were pleased to be raising the issue then, and we are going to continue to raise the issue all the way through to the next election.

A couple of issues in the government's task force report need to be addressed. They have not been addressed to date. The first of these is: what substantive steps are being taken to address the issue of access to technology in a way in which those who can afford information technology take advantage of it, and that is through having access to technology in their homes? The beauty of information technology is that it can be used in the most convenient way possible, and for a lot of people that is in the evenings in their homes, outside of working hours.

Yet we continue to see a focus from this government which says, "We will provide information technology access through public facilities such as libraries, seniors areas and other facilities." That is commendable, but it does not address the main concern. The main concern is making sure that people can access technology in the way which is most convenient for them. To travel outside of the home to go to a kiosk, a touch screen or an information technology point is simply saying that you have to overcome the barrier of distance to get to that technology.

I admit that this is a very difficult issue, but we should not be avoiding it. We should instead be addressing it head on. I do not see the initiatives from government doing that to date.

Another point I would like to raise in the debate today relates to the provision of information through broadband cable systems. The rollout of TransACT is progressing across the territory. TransACT does provide a very high standard of services and information to residents who connect to it. The hoopla associated with the rollout of TransACT is a little different from the reality. We have heard a lot of hoopla about how the ACT is going to be connected to this wonderful system. If only it were true that every household was connected to the system. Then we would be a truly connected society.

The reality is very different from that. There are substantial barriers to connection. TransACT has responded to some of these issues in a variety of ways. The first is in relation to the waiver of the connection charge in return for residents taking up the whole suite of packages that TransACT is offering. It is an integrated package of TV, online access and telephony.

That is a good step. But, again, what practical steps are we seeing for those who are not already part of the information society, who are not already participating? The TransACT step is a good one for those who are already participating or have the capacity to participate. But for those who do not, a discounted deal to join TransACT misses the point.

We need to look at opportunities for low-income households, for fixed income households and for a range of other people on lower incomes. It is lower income families and lower income people who are the main element on the wrong side of the divide. We need to look at measures for engaging those people too and getting them connected to systems like TransACT-measures such as a community service obligation for

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