Page 3567 - Week 11 - Thursday, 22 September 2005

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a result of our investment, the projected economic impact of NICTA on the ACT is in the vicinity of $600 million in research, education and commercialisation activities over the next 10 years.

On 30 May, NICTA and Leighton Contractors agreed to commercial terms for the construction of a new building in Civic West, where the cranes are growing out of the ground. Recently the Minister for Planning announced the approval of a building that will become the headquarters for NICTA. Site works for the new building are expected to commence late this year. Completion is expected in about April 2007, with commissioning and occupation by May 2007.

The NICTA DA was lodged on 28 July 2005 and approved on 8 September 2005, within the statutory time frame, despite some claims to the contrary yesterday. The primary areas of research being conducted in Canberra include—

Opposition members interjecting—

MR QUINLAN: This is educational. Listen. Primary areas of research include statistical machine learning—the development of techniques that can, when learned from data in flexible, non-parametric fashion—

Mrs Dunne: Do you understand what that means?

MR QUINLAN: Not a clue. This approach combines classical signal processing, statistics, pattern recognition and artificial intelligence in a powerful way. I have about four more of those paragraphs. I am sure you do not really want to hear them. But I do want to advise the Assembly that very early in the time that I took this portfolio I was given a comprehensive tour of research facilities within the ANU that will feed into this. The work that has already been done within the ANU and the work that will be accelerated and expanded by the presence of NICTA is, I have to say, mind-blowing. Certainly it is with great pride that this government has associated itself with that. We will continue to build partnerships that will benefit all of us, certainly benefit this town and its repute around the world and its security and economy over the long term.

MS MacDONALD: I ask a supplementary question. Minister, what is NICTA doing to integrate with local ACT business and, in particular, small and medium enterprises?

MR QUINLAN: I am glad you asked that question. NICTA has a total staff of 67 in Canberra. Currently there are 50 NICTA endorsed PhD candidates studying at the ANU. The process of NICTA is well under way, despite the fact that the building is yet to come out of the ground amongst those cranes in the sky over there.

NICTA has established research and collaboration projects with four local SMEs and is finalising a contract for another. The interaction with local industry is currently far more advanced in the ACT than in New South Wales. NICTA is working with the Canberra Business Council to establish student placements in local ICT companies, present a program of seminars for SMEs and conduct a series of boardroom lunches with representatives from significant organisations.

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