Australian government pumps $70m in national broadband network, digital economy

The Gillard government has announced a $70 million spending package to promote the $36 billion National Broadband Network and the digital economy.Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced the package as part of a new national digital economy strategy at the opening of the CeBIT technology fair in Sydney today.To read this report in The Australian in full, see:
Also see:Conroy launches Digital Economy Strategy
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has today unveiled the government’s Digital Economy Strategy, which is aimed at improving Australia’s broadband penetration ahead of the completion of the $35.9 billion National Broadband Network roll-out in 2020.At the launch of the annual CeBIT Australia information technology industry conference in Sydney this morning, Conroy said the government’s key vision regarding the policy is for Australia to be one of the top five OECD countries for broadband penetration in households. to become a leading digital economy by 2020 [news release]
Fully realising the benefits of the digital economy through the National Broadband Network (NBN) would help Australia become a world-leading digital economy by 2020, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, said today.Launching the National Digital Economy Strategy ( at the CeBIT conference, Senator Conroy said the vision of the strategy would contribute to Australia’s productivity, maintain our global competitiveness and bring about tangible social wellbeing improvements – including better access to health and education services – no matter where people live in Australia.”The Gillard Government is committed to ensuring Australian households and businesses, through the NBN, can receive the full benefits of the digital economy no matter where they live around Australia,” Senator Conroy said.”Building the NBN is a key step towards that vision, which has as one of its goals Australia being among the top five OECD countries by 2020 when it comes to the percentage of households connected to broadband at home.”Senator Conroy said the National Digital Economy Strategy identifies eight goals to help measure our progress towards this vision. They are that by 2020:

  • Australia will rank in the top five Organisation for Economic Cooperation (OECD) countries in the portion of households that connect to broadband at home;
  • Australia will rank in the top five OECD countries in the portion of businesses and not-for-profit organisations using online opportunities;
  • The majority of Australian households, businesses and other organisations will have access to smart technology to better manage their energy use;
  • 90 per cent of high priority consumers such as older Australians, mothers and babies and those with chronic diseases, can access individual electronic health records. In addition, by 2015, 495,000 telehealth consultations will have been delivered and by 2020, 25 per cent of all specialists will be delivering telehealth consultations to remote patients;
  • Australian schools, TAFEs, universities and higher education institutions will have the connectivity to develop and collaborate on innovative educational services that will extend the opportunities for online learning;
  • Australia will have at least doubled its level of teleworking so that at least 12 per cent of Australian employees may work away from the traditional workplace; and,
  • Four of five Australians will choose to engage with the government through the Internet or other type of online service.

“By connecting to high-speed broadband, households will benefit through savings generated from time-saving activities such as telecommuting for remote work and study and improved access to business and job opportunities, health, education, social and government services,” Senator Conroy said.”To accelerate progress towards this, I am pleased to announce the government will provide $23.8 million over three years for a Digital Communities initiative, a focus of which will be to establish a ‘Digital Hub’ in each of the 40 communities to first benefit from the NBN.”Senator Conroy said the Gillard Government was also aiming to see Australia rank in the top five OECD countries by 2020 in the percentage of businesses and not-for-profit organisations using online opportunities to drive productivity improvements, expand their customer base and enable jobs growth.”As part of the National Digital Economy Strategy, we will provide $12.4 million over three years to a Digital Enterprises initiative to assist small-to-medium enterprises and not-for-profit organisations (including local cultural organisations) in and around the 40 communities to first benefit from the NBN to help them fully utilise the broadband network.”Maximising the benefit of the digital economy requires action by all levels of government, industry and the community as a whole.”In a sign of such support I am very pleased to announce a team of Australians have agreed to partner with us as national champions of high-speed broadband.” ( more information visit education and skills development through the NBN [news release]Students and people undertaking vocational courses are set to benefit from online education, training and skills services projects designed to take advantage of the National Broadband Network (NBN).Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today announced that the Gillard Government will provide $21.7 million in funding for a four year NBN Enabled Education and Skills Services Program, to support the development of online and interactive education and training projects.”The NBN will support the delivery of online learning through the video and web-conferencing platforms needed for 21st century education, training and skills development,” Senator Conroy said today at the CeBIT Australia Conference in Sydney.”We will look at innovative education and training projects, which have the potential to deliver high quality, accessible and sustainable online tools to Australian schools, TAFEs, universities, workplaces and homes”, said the Minister for Tertiary Education and Skills, Senator Chris Evans.”The program will focus on projects which help Australians to study, learn and develop skills no matter where they live or work around Australia.”Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett, said the NBN will create great opportunities for Australian students to collaborate and for parents to access education resources to help their children learn.
“This program adds to our investment of more than $2.4 billion in the Digital Education Revolution, which provides Australian students with the tools that will be essential for their fast-changing digital world,” Mr Garrett said.Senator Evans said the NBN, together with the Government’s $3 billion investment in skills and training initiatives over six years, will deliver the skilled workers the economy needs and ensure more Australians can benefit from our growing prosperity.”The Australian Government believes in the power of education and skills development to transform lives and to underpin the next round of productivity gains for the Australian economy,” he said.Program funding will target those communities to first benefit from the NBN, which will impact education and skills development in regional and remote areas.The program’s draft funding guidelines are expected to be released for comment mid-year with a Call for Proposals to be issued in September 2011.Selected project proposals will be announced by the end of 2011, with projects to commence in 2012.

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