Address to CeBIT Australia 2011
31 May 2011
Good Morning, it’s great to be here today. As you have just seen, the vision the Government has for all Australians, is very exciting. I will speak more about that shortly.
Firstly, I would like to acknowledge:
- Mr Stephan Weil, Lord Mayor of Hannover, Supervisor of the board of Deutsche Messe AG
- Mr Hans-Gunter Hermann Gnodtke Consul general of the Federal Republic of Germany in Sydney
- Mr Heinz Paul Bonn, Vice President of BITKOM
I would also like to welcome delegates attending the Health Informatics Society of Australia’s Rural and Remote Telehealth Conference, who are joining us from Cairns via a live feed.
The Cairns conference is discussing the future direction of telehealth in Australia, so their participation in today’s event is most appropriate.
Welcome, too, to those watching this via live webcast.
And may I also offer an apology on behalf of the Prime Minister who is unable to attend today’s event. She has asked me to represent her here today.
The Gillard Government has a vision that is unreservedly bold.
It is that by 2020 this nation will be among the world’s leading digital economies ... that Australia will harness the potential of the NBN to participate and prosper – to deliver savings to households, support the international competitiveness of Australian businesses ... and improve our health and educational services.
But this is not a vision just about technology. Or a vision just about the NBN.
This vision is about how we use technology and the NBN to facilitate a more inclusive, more connected community, to drive productivity and Australian innovation.
It is a vision in which the distance that previously defined our domestic and international relationships is rendered increasingly irrelevant.
It is a vision that Australia deserves ... and one that we believe, together, we can achieve.
Today I launch the National Digital Economy Strategy that outlines our vision.
In 2020, when Australia has taken its place as a leading global digital economy, we will rank in the top five OECD countries in the percentage of households that connect to broadband at home.
We will rank in the top five OECD countries in terms of businesses and not-for- profit organisations using online opportunities to drive efficiency and productivity improvements, expand their customer base and enable growth.
In 2020, as a world-leading digital economy, regional households and businesses will engage online to the same extent as those in our cities.
The Australian health system will, through utilisation of the NBN, enhance service delivery across the health sector, increase the number of people who can access health services and information, and expand opportunities for innovation in health care.
Australian schools, TAFEs, universities and higher education institutions will have the connectivity to develop and collaborate on innovative and flexible education services and resources.
This is the vision that the Gillard Government is committed to achieving.
But if we are to achieve it, evidence suggests we have work to do – we know that Australia is falling behind other countries in our region.
The OECD reports that as of June 2010, Australia was ranked 18th amongst member states for broadband penetration.
At June 2009, only 41.5 per cent of Australian businesses had a web presence and only 27.1 per cent of Australian businesses took orders via the internet.
And these figures are worse when we break them down geographically.
Current data indicates that the number of Australians who have never used the internet is higher among those living in regional and remote areas.
And similarly in business, the data indicates that only 29.7 per cent of businesses located outside of capital cities had a web presence, compared with 39.5 per cent of businesses located in capital cities.
Overall, the World Economic Forum recently ranked Australia 17th in its 2010-2011 Network Readiness Index, behind such competitor economies as the US, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong and Korea.
The Network Readiness Index measures how economies leverage ICT advances for increased growth and development.
By investing in the National Broadband Network, the Gillard Government is putting in place the essential underlying infrastructure which is the platform for our improved participation in the digital economy.
But more needs to be done to truly realise the benefits that the NBN can deliver to this vast nation.
For those not engaged online, the most common reason given is that they don’t see the relevance to their lifestyle.
According to a report by the ACMA, for more than half of people without an internet connection and who are not planning to get one, this is the reason given.
I think it is fair to say many people have not had the opportunity to experience high speed broadband and how it will change their lives. We believe once they see the possibilities, they will understand the amazing opportunities it creates .
To date the public debates about the NBN have focussed on the technology, as opposed to its potential and its benefits.
That is understandable. The digital economy underpinned by the NBN is a complete game-changer.
So ... if we are to ensure that all Australian households and businesses are deriving the benefits of an NBN-empowered digital economy ... if we are to ensure that we effectively leverage the NBN to improve our health and education outcomes ... then the Government, together with industry, needs to explain, and to make easily available the tools and platforms ... to support participation in the digital economy.
And this is what I am here today to announce.
For our part, the Gillard Government will take a co-ordinated approach to outlining – and fulfilling – our vision, and explaining that vision and its benefit to Australians.
Our vision for Australia is detailed in the National Digital Economy Strategy, a comprehensive document that will guide our collaboration with industry, the community and between all levels of government.
The National Digital Economy Strategy contains eight key goals that will allow us to measure our progress towards becoming a leading digital economy by 2020.
These goals cover all aspects of Australian life in the cities and the regions — home, education, health and aged care, business, and the environment — and take us from where are now ... to where we want to be.
The Strategy also includes a number of new initiatives to kick-start our progress towards the vision.
Together the eight goals and the new initiatives paint a picture of a vibrant and connected Australia, one in which we move seamlessly between the physical and the digital world ...
One in which the efficient use of digital technologies has become so interwoven with our personal and professional lives that we move between them with confidence and ease.
The digital economy is dynamic and it is constantly evolving as new uses emerge and change our daily habits.
Because of that the Government recognises there could well be additional measures needed between now and 2020.
We will closely monitor the implementation of the initiatives announced in this Strategy and our progress against the Digital Economy Goals. We will continue to identify whether further measures need to be implemented.
Defining the vision is one thing; communicating it is another.
To that end, we have taken a multi-faceted approach, including redeveloping the www.nbn.gov.au website to include more user-friendly content, and developing two informative videos – the first which you saw a shortened version of earlier.
One of the initiatives I am announcing today is Digital Communities.
Under this initiative, we will provide $23.8 million over three years to reduce the number of Australians, currently 26% of people over the age of 15, who are not engaged in the digital economy.
A key focus of this initiative will be to establish a Digital Hub where online training and internet access will be provided to residents in local communities to experience what they can do with high-speed broadband.
The program will also allow people to develop the skills to participate in the digital economy.
Digital Hubs will be established in each of the 40 communities to first benefit from the NBN for a period of time to enable residents who don’t have a connection at home, to understand the capabilities.
This is about spreading digital literacy - knowledge and confidence, and ensuring no-one gets left behind.
By 2020 we want Australia to be among the top five OECD countries when it comes to the per centage of households connected to broadband at home.
A report by the Allen Consulting Group commissioned by my Department found gains to household consumption of $148 a week in those homes with an internet connection through time-saving activities.
The time-saving activities identified included telecommuting, remote work and study, information gathering, price and product discovery and education
It also showed that if approximately 800,000 more households connected to the internet, household consumption gains would increase by $2.4 billion a year.
Non-metropolitan regions in particular will benefit. The report showed that on average, a 10 per cent increase in broadband connectivity raised regional output by 0.53 per cent compared with a 0.38 per cent increase in metropolitan areas.
As well as measurable financial savings, high speed broadband can provide improved access to business and job opportunities, health services, education, social and government services, as well as benefits to the Australian economy.
This figure is much higher for retired people, low income earners, , Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and people living in remote areas.
Targeted action is needed to minimise digital exclusion and help all Australian families and communities enjoy the benefits of participating in the digital economy.
And this is why the Gillard Government is proud to be building the NBN to reach all Australian homes, businesses and schools, and why we reject the calls of some to allow the private sector to build only to the profitable parts of the country.
As you saw earlier, to assist us in our efforts to increase online activity, the Government has also developed a video that shows people – more powerfully than in the printed words of the Strategy – what an NBN-enabled house might look like in the not-too-distant future.
It brings to life how all Australians will be able to enjoy the benefits of high-speed broadband by accessing telehealth services to the home, educational opportunities and e-commerce, as well as working from home.
Our Digital Communities program will make participation, connection and innovation a reality for all.
It’s not only households that are lagging behind in online participation.
Another recent report by the Allen Consulting Group found that small business and community organisations in the NBN first release sites of Brunswick, Townsville, Kiama, Armidale and Willunga have high expectations of the NBN, and see great potential to develop new products and access markets.
The report found that these businesses know that the NBN will help foster innovation, but believe it will be up to the businesses themselves to develop the best way to use it.
We have a responsibility to help Australian businesses and community organisations understand how to fully make use of the NBN as it becomes available to them.
Australian businesses fall well behind international competitors such as the United Kingdom, Canada, South Korea and France in terms of the number that have a website and the percentage of their total turnover from e‑commerce.
A key reason cited for not being connected online is a lack of skills ... or a perceived need for an online presence.
But when small businesses do go online the gains can be immediate.
A Tasmanian sign writer, David Jones, has described the change in capability since connecting to the NBN last year as going from “walking around in sandshoes to driving a Ferrari”.
His newfound ability to transfer large files that previously had to be couriered has opened unlimited business horizons.
He won’t be alone.
Our goal for Australian businesses and not-for-profit organisations is that Australia will rank in the top five OECD countries in relation to the percentage of businesses and not-for-profit organisations using online opportunities to drive productivity improvements, expand their customer base and enable growth.
The NBN will allow Australian businesses, particularly small businesses, and the 600,000 or so not-for-profit organisations, to participate in a local, national and global marketplace, no matter where they are located.
Greater use of online opportunities will enable Australian businesses to conduct their existing business processes more efficiently to maximise their overall competitiveness, grow revenues and increase productivity.
By engaging online, not-for-profit and community service organisations can expand their supporter pool to include, potentially, the entire world and explore more innovative ways of creating awareness for their cause and developing new fundraising models.
Today, I can also announce that the Government has established the Digital Enterprise Program which will provide $12.4 million over three years to assist small-to-medium enterprises and not-for-profit organisations better understand how they can take advantage of the NBN and online opportunities more generally.
The program will provide advice to businesses on how to use the NBN to diversify their operations by allowing them to improve their online presence, transact online, offer new products and services, expand their market, improve their competitiveness, and increase their means of communicating with customers and suppliers.
Like Digital Communities, this program will provide assistance in communities which will first benefit from the NBN.
It will also assist not-for-profit organisations to engage online by using the NBN to extend their reach into the community, expand their donor pool and achieve administrative efficiencies such as better management of their members.
To compliment the Digital Enterprise program, we have also released a business video, in which business people speak about what an NBN-empowered digital economy will mean for Australian companies.
And not forgetting our friends up there in Cairns....
The NBN and the digital economy will impact on people’s daily lives in so many ways, but the most immediate benefit is likely to be through health services.
The NBN will provide a platform that allows homes, doctors’ surgeries, pharmacies, clinics, aged care facilities and allied health professionals to connect to affordable, reliable, high-speed and high-capacity broadband.
This represents a landmark opportunity to improve, indeed to revolutionise, the way healthcare is delivered in Australia.
The National Digital Economy Strategy has set a goal for health and aged care that includes access to individual health records for 90 percent of older Australians, mothers and babies and those with chronic disease or their carers.
The Digital Economy goal also details targets for the number of specialist telehealth consultations to patients in rural, remote and outer metropolitan areas, and the number of specialists delivering telehealth consultations to remote patients.
To support our health system achieve this, I am announcing a new telehealth initiative under the Digital Regions Initiative.
The Gillard Government has offered up to $3.5 million for a trial of in-home telehealth services for Australians with diabetes living in Townsville.
The trial will take advantage of the NBN to deliver innovative and high quality telehealth services to people with diabetes in their homes.
It will initially involve people in the NBN first release suburbs of Aitkenvale and Mundingburra in Townsville ... and will then extend to include participants in the second release Townsville site.
The trial will deliver high quality home telehealth monitoring. Services will include providing patient health updates and alerts to health professionals, along with high definition home tele-consultation between patients and allied health professionals, as well as in-home support and education services.
We will also be providing $2 million under the DRI program for the Princess Alexandra hospital in Queensland to deliver telehealth services to patients living in regional Queensland.
The trial will help identify the benefits, costs and feasibility of in-home telehealth and will be delivered in collaboration with Queensland Health and the Townsville General Practice Network.
In education, the NBN will significantly extend the reach, availability and quality of services, particularly in regional areas, to help address our national skills shortage.
The Government will establish an NBN-enabled Education and Skills Services program over four years that will fund trials to improve online and interactive education and skills.
It will contribute to the development of services that connect teachers with students to address skills shortages, as well as improving professional development, enhancing community links, and facilitating workplace training and assessment to improve workplace productivity.
The program will make $27.2 million available to source, develop and implement projects associated with NBN first release sites.
In Armidale, where the NBN was switchedon two weeks ago, the Government announced it would provide funding of $3.5 million for a trial of high quality vocational and adult education services.
This is being done through a partnership between the NSW TAFE - New England Institute and the University of New England.
More than 400 people will participate in an interactive learning space using virtual interactive training rooms and laboratories.
The project will demonstrate the potential for delivering education services and resources to students anywhere in the country.
Broadly, our goal in relation to education is that Australian schools, TAFEs, universities and higher education institutions have the connectivity to develop and collaborate on innovative and flexible educational services and resources ... that they extend online learning resources to the home and workplace, and offer students the opportunity for online learning.
Already in Tasmania, where the NBN was switched on last year, schools are embracing its benefits, including national and international videoconferencing with subject experts – bringing them, to the delight of the children, right into the classroom.
There is, to put it simply, a lot happening.
To put it all in to context, alongside the National Digital Economy Strategy we have released a re-vamped NBN website.
It explains the benefits of the NBN and answers people’s questions about what the NBN means for them.
It also provides those of you who are already advocates of the NBN, with tools and materials to help you get the message out.
The Government is proud to announce that we have been joined by 20 experts in their fields who have committed to help Australian households and businesses better understand how they can benefit from ubiquitous, reliable, high-speed broadband.
Because of their expertise, these partners whose names are currently on the screen behind me are ideally placed to explain how the NBN will provide transformative benefits in areas such as health, education, business and innovation.
Over the coming months you will be hearing from them, I’m sure.
The National Digital Economy Strategy and the NBN campaign have been developed to be interactive and real time– purpose built for the current digital economy trends and ready to adapt as those trends change and progress over time.
The key features are:
- The inclusion of social media sharing buttons that will invite people to start a discussion about the digital economy and NBN on the platform of their choice.
- The use of the #au20 hashtag to invite people to join in a conversation about the vision for Australia to be a leading digital economy by 2020.
- The posting of the two videos – an extended version of the one you saw earlier as well as some business case studies online.
- The publication of the National Digital Economy Strategy in multiple formats to allow you to interact with the content as you prefer.
- And, of course, the Strategy and the site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license so that you can freely copy it and adapt it for your local community.
This is the beginning of our engagement to promote the digital economy vision and explain the benefits of the National Broadband Network.
The National Digital Economy Strategy I am launching today paves Australia’s way forward.
Our vision is ambitious.
Within it lies a key to Australia’s economic and social future, a future made possible by the NBN.
This is a Strategy for all Australians, a collaboration between government, industry and the community to maximise the benefits of the NBN.
This is a joint journey; one on which we invite and welcome the initiative of industry.
Through this Strategy ... this vision ... we call on Australians to embrace the digital economy, to use it in all aspects of their lives, so together we can take Australia to its place as one of the world’s leading digital economies by 2020.