Jun 5, 2013

Consideration in Detail – National Broadband Network

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Minister for Regional Development and Local Government) (17:54):  I thank the member for La Trobe for her ongoing interest in the NBN and her conveying of the interest of her local business community. I of course have had the pleasure of visiting the fine electorate of La Trobe, including to a community cabinet meeting where we had discussions with local business leaders about the capacity for the NBN to allow an area which is on the urban fringes of the great city of Melbourne to engage and compete in real time and not have to be located in the CBD. That has other advantages as well in terms of transport and transforming the lifestyles of people who live in such a magnificent electorate, which has lots of open space and a lot of attractiveness to it. The areas on the outskirts of our cities have had the disadvantage of distance, and one of the things that the NBN does is make it very possible for businesses to locate and compete in a real sense, because the physical location is not as important and, of course, there are all the applications that the member speaks about, particularly in terms of medical technology.

It is indeed a tragedy that in some of the debate from those opposite they have comprehensively failed to understand the importance of upload speeds and the importance of transformative technologies like Cloud computing. The sorts of comments that you see from time to time about the NBN just being about downloading movies faster than is possible in other areas is an example of that. I genuinely felt a great deal of sympathy for the member for Wentworth when he was standing in Fox Studios and the Sonny Bill Williams image appeared and there was the Leader of the Opposition saying, ‘That is computer generated, isn’t it?’ as if he had woken up to the fact that he had not just appeared in Fox Studios as an apparition as a result of some sort of Dr Who TARDIS type system. That says a lot about their failure to understand why this transformative policy is so important.

It will also revolutionise access to the Cloud. We are no longer living in a broadcast world. Today’s internet is increasingly a two-way, thoroughly interactive environment. Cloud computing facilitates this new world by enabling access to powerful IT infrastructure without the need to own and operate it on site. Unlike those opposite, we are getting on with the job of building broadcast infrastructure to support technologies like Cloud for all Australians and the potential of this technology into the future.

For someone with a 12-year-old who is much more technologically competent than his father—and that is a familiar experience—opening up the world to young people means that part of what the NBN debate is about is embracing the future and not being scared or intimidated by it. It is about embracing the opportunities that it will bring. It is a democratic mechanism, which is very important in terms of participation in that two-way interactive environment of the future. So I thank the member for La Trobe, and I certainly look forward to the opportunities of the future as facilitated by the rollout of the NBN.