Page 3372 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 18 September 2013

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Digital capabilities will be one of the hallmarks of successful cities in the future. ICT infrastructure is one part of it, but converting that into amenity and connectedness is the other. Our digital Canberra strategy is an action plan to target these priorities and to drive further growth and innovation across the ACT. It represents a partnership between the government, business and community sectors and we are seeing strong engagement through the digital Canberra challenge.

Digital Canberra will help realise the city’s and the community’s potential, and the digital Canberra action plan will be the roadmap we use to achieve important milestones. Digital Canberra is being formed by consultation with other cities and jurisdictions, and the digital Canberra round table I held earlier in the year has also helped consolidate many of the opportunities and challenges in the area and also set down a pathway and a program of priorities.

Our industry consultations on digital Canberra emphasised the need to benchmark current digital usage and as a result we are conducting a digital capacity survey in partnership with the Canberra Business Council and CollabIT which will provide personal advice to businesses and non-profits in the form of a digital scorecard. The digital agenda is all encompassing. In an economy fuelled by knowledge and innovation, as ours is, it is one of those areas we have to keep building on and indeed protect.

The ACT government has sustained a long-term commitment to NICTA when our budget has been under stress, as it has been in 2012-13 where we still found room for $12 million to provide further and continued support to the work NICTA are doing, the jobs they are creating and the research they are bringing to Canberra. This is in both our interests and the national interest because of its great contribution to innovation across Australia but importantly here in Canberra.

It would be short-sighted and another hit to the ACT economy for the incoming federal government to follow through with its announced policy of cutting funding to NICTA by $42 million over two years. I add my strong support for this motion for us as an Assembly to lobby the commonwealth in a united way against this decision.

MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Disability, Children and Young People, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Women, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Racing and Gaming) (3.49): I thank Mr Gentleman for bringing this motion to the Assembly. Digital education, or ICT, is the way education systems are meeting the 21st century communication challenges. It is important that our students are equipped with the skills to respond to changes in our economy, with ICT skills being an essential driver of our ongoing economic prosperity. The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians recognises the need for students to be highly skilled in the use of ICT as rapid and continuing advances in technology are changing the way people share and communicate.

The ACT has some of the best schools in the nation, as the 2013 NAPLAN results so clearly demonstrate. And technology is giving us the edge when it comes to the future.

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