Page 3337 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 18 September 2013

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economy. NICTA’s values—invent, inspire, collaborate, make it happen, excel—represent their culture and the cutting-edge research projects that will continue to drive Australia’s future.

As the leader of ICT research and innovation in Australia, NICTA’s list of past and present research projects is impressive, to say the least. Current research projects include the bionic eye project. As a member of Bionic Vision Australia, a national consortium of researchers, NICTA is working on developing a retinal prosthesis, or bionic eye, capable of restoring the sense of vision to people with blindness. I have visited NICTA on about five occasions over the last five years and I have received presentations on a lot of this technology that they are working on.

Another one is the smart transport and roads project, which aims to make traffic control systems smarter through the use of calculations to establish an understanding of how traffic flows over a wide area network of traffic. They then use that information to compute changes at the level of each traffic light to optimise traffic flows across that network.

Projects like these will have a profound impact on Australia and internationally, and seek to further strengthen and support sectors such as health, transport, primary industries and education, to name just a few.

NICTA has five offices located around Australia, including one located in Canberra. The Canberra research lab comprises five research groups: computer vision, machine learning, networks, optimisation and software systems. The Canberra lab collaborates with the ANU, government and private enterprise. Through its collaborative approach with ANU, NICTA offers additional research training to PhD students in IT research fields. The eGov Cluster, managed by and based at the Canberra research lab, provides a stream for industry, research and government to collaborate on increasingly complex problems facing government today.

Nationally, NICTA sponsors a number of competitions, including GovHack, which focuses on supporting and encouraging the hacker culture in Australia using government data to create innovative means of delivering data sets as well as solving issues that arise through technology. I am happy to add that several award recipients from GovHack 2013 were students from Canberra.

Since its formation, NICTA has created almost a dozen new companies, has created a substantial technology and intellectual property portfolio, and has collaborated on a range of joint projects as well as supplying new talent to the ICT industry—all since its inception through a Liberal government initiative back in 2001.

We would remind the government that back in May it was the federal Labor government itself that sought to decrease NICTA’s funding and left the question of funding for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 forward estimates periods open to be considered in the 2014-15 budget. Former Prime Minister Rudd only belatedly announced a $42 million funding injection on 8 August 2013, knowing full well that Labor would not be returning to government to make good on its promise. Labor’s plan of phasing out

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