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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 September 2015) . . Page.. 3388 ..

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (11.40): Prior to the federal election in 2013 residents of the high-tech innovation zone in Bruce and east Belconnen including Bruce, Cook, Macquarie and Aranda in my electorate were among the next Canberra suburbs scheduled on the NBN website to get broadband. Soon after Mr Abbott became Prime Minister and Mr Turnbull became communications minister these suburbs were wiped from the NBN map, losing the opportunity for first-class broadband promised by the Liberals before the last election, as those same Liberals gutted the NBN rollout.

Even today, two years after they were cut from the rollout map, NBN broadband has still not reached them. This is despite Liberal assurances before the federal election that they would honour existing commitments and not pull the plug. The NBN rollout has become a complete shambles under the stewardship of Malcolm Turnbull.

This is a particularly cruel blow not only to the residents in my electorate who have been forced to endure digital infrastructure that is woefully inadequate but also the ACT as a whole in its quest to become Australia’s technology capital. High-tech institutions including the University of Canberra, the Australian Institute of Sport, the CIT Bruce campus, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Fern Hill Technology Park and Calvary hospital have all suffered as a result of this short-sightedness.

Limiting the full rollout of fibre to the home broadband has already done untold damage to long-term innovation in Australia and in the ACT. What could have been the full rollout of broadband across my entire electorate has instead become a cruel cut for the residents who were told they were next.

The ACT government, on the other hand, is committed to the development of a truly digital and technologically innovative society. Canberra is quite full of early adopters of new technology, innovators and entrepreneurs, and that is why we have developed the digital Canberra action plan for the period 2014-18. Digital Canberra is the ACT government’s roadmap on how to lead, inspire and collaborate in identifying, testing and implementing ideas and solutions that take advantage of digital opportunities.

Our government’s vision is to promote Canberra as a modern, dynamic, digital city that fosters innovation, partnerships and creativity. We will identify opportunities for business to optimise the use of digital technology, creating jobs, boosting key industries and attracting new businesses and design faster, more efficient digital services that enhance citizens’ quality of life. Accelerating digital uptake to raise productivity is an important part of the ACT government’s digital Canberra strategy, and its comprehensive planning and implementation contrasts with the bungling and broken promises that have marred Turnbull’s ministership of the NBN.

Businesses using digital technologies are able to lower communication costs, find new customers and access more efficient supply chains. Customers want and expect faster access to products and services, and employees increasingly expect greater flexibility in where they work. This link between digital engagement and commercial success has been well documented. Research from Deloitte Access Economics found that Australian small businesses with high digital engagement are twice as likely to be growing revenue and earn twice the revenue per employee. These firms are also four times more likely to be hiring more staff.

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