Jun 24, 2010

Question without notice – Broadband

Ms KING (2:26 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. What benefits does comprehensive high-speed broadband offer for the development of smart infrastructure?

Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) —I thank the member for Ballarat for her question. The member for Ballarat is, of course, chairing the inquiry of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government into smart infrastructure. The first meeting was held here in the parliament, attended by over 200 experts in a full-day seminar. I congratulate the member for Ballarat on her work on that committee, and also the member for Hinkler. This is a committee that works in the best traditions of bipartisanship in this chamber.

The Gillard Labor government is working very hard to deliver a high-speed national broadband network—

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! The House will come to order!

Mr ALBANESE —because we understand that high-speed broadband will be the communications backbone for smart infrastructure. This is about an agenda for the future. Intelligent transport systems will be able to provide commuters with real-time information about relative congestion, the time to be taken and the pricing of various travel options to facilitate informed decisions. Smart energy meters will give you an informed choice of energy source, price tariff, emissions intensity or just-in-time hot water heating.

Already Australians can see the promise of smart infrastructure in reality—like our investment in the Kwinana Freeway in Perth to install advanced technologies like variable speed limits and real-time lane management systems, making a real difference today; or our $100 million investment in the Smart Grid, Smart City demonstration project, trialling advanced technologies to improve energy efficiency for homes and businesses; or our $45 million investment to trial advanced train management systems in South Australia with satellite based GPS and wireless broadband communications to manage train movements.

We take these issues seriously as part of the future agenda because we know that Access Economics has found that the application of smart infrastructure could increase GDP by between $35 and $80 billion over the first 10 years. This is one of the reasons why a national broadband network is so important to our future. It is at risk from the opposition, and it is just one of the reasons why this Labor government deserves to be re-elected.