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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (2 May) . . Page.. 1372 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Without judging in detail the issues that have been raised in the task force that Ms Burke chaired, we would see the breadth of issues that they have presented in that report as being a good foundation, a good base, on which to proceed with this debate. Empowering community organisations in this task is very important. We have to decide what those organisations are. I do not know whether it is 27 organisations or what number it is. It is only a recommendation, Ms Tucker. I would not get too upset about the words used in that case.

If you can look beyond the words to the intention, the point that was being made is that we can facilitate good access in this community by getting into those organisations which have significant memberships and have the capacity to outreach and giving them either training capacity themselves or means to access a training capacity to give their members what they need. A very good example of that is the Council on the Ageing. The Council on the Ageing has a room full of computer terminals in their office in Hughes. They are constantly getting members of that organisation and others into that room to sit down and be trained in how to use computers. They give them access and give them a sense of empowerment. As I understand the task force report, it suggests that that be multiplied across a range of other organisations which presently do not have banks of computers for people to use. That is a worthwhile suggestion. It does not deserve to be dumped on, in my view. Whether we ultimately fund 20, 27 or 47 organisations to do that is not particularly important.

Mr Corbell said that he had raised the issue some time ago and the government had attacked him for raising it. That is not true. What the government was concerned about was the claim that he was making that the government had no interest in it and had taken no steps towards bridging the digital divide. That is patently not true. I point to the enormously important step that was taken a couple of years ago to provide students in our schools with access to computers and training in those computers-a computer between every two students in our schools. That was a huge step towards increasing the bridging of the digital divide. There was access to every student going through our schools. That gives us a very good chance of ensuring that the next generation of Canberrans, if they do not have a computer in their own homes, will not be afraid to use a computer when one is available. That is an enormously big step towards bridging the digital divide. We have also done a number of things to increase that access which I do not have time to go into now, but they have been very significant and this is only a further step in bridging the digital divide.

I will view the recommendations of the report in a positive way. The efforts put in by the members of the task force deserve that much, and I hope others will give the report a chance to be properly discussed and ventilated into the future.

MR QUINLAN (4.10): I do not understand why it was necessary to have this matter of public importance today pending a report. That aside, I want to agree with the Chief Minister in his observation that some people do not want access to the Internet. Some people cannot; some people do not feel able; some people are frightened of technology.

Listening to this debate, I was reminded of an American comedienne who, during a stand-up routine, said, "The bank in our town is so small it has only two tellers, except when they are busy. Then they have one." That is a description of the banks we have

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