Book launch: Transforming Australia: The Broadband Revolution and the Digital Economy.
Parliament House, Canberra
Monday 26 November 2012
140 years ago, one of Australia’s most significant engineering feats was completed. The Overland Telegraph stretched 3,200 kilometres from Port Augusta in South Australia to Darwin in the Northern Territory.
The head of the project, Charles Todd, sent the first message on 22 August, 1872. It read:
“We have this day, within two years, completed a line of communications two thousand miles long through the very centre of Australia, until a few years ago a Terra Incognita believed to be a desert.”
The Overland Telegraph connected the Australian colonies, and a few years later New Zealand, to the world. The telegraph had significant impact on our economic development; it gave Australia’s mining and agricultural industries same day access to markets in London.
Our geographical isolation was a challenge for our forebears. It challenges us still.
Transport and communications systems remain critical to keep our nation self-reliant, independent, and able to compete with the rest of the world. It is the reason the Gillard Government has committed to another nation-building engineering project – the National Broadband Network.
The NBN is the single largest infrastructure project in our history.
It will provide affordable and reliable high-speed broadband to all Australians. It will also ensure a better future for our communities and our economy. It is being built now but will serve us for decades to come.
Most importantly, the NBN will secure Australia’s place in the 21st century digital age.
Today, it is my great pleasure to launch Transforming Australia: The Broadband Revolution and the Digital Economy.
It gives us an insight into the many ways in which our lives will be changed for the better through the NBN.
Thebooklooks at the benefits of the NBN in the words of some of Australia’s most prominent individuals. I’m pleased to welcome a number of them here today.
The book’s content shows why the NBN is such an important part of the transformation of our economy and society into the digital age. The contributors come from many backgrounds; all of them are experts in their field. They have each outlined the exciting prospects of high-speed broadband services in their field of expertise.
Australia’s prosperity is not merely the consequence of our natural resources. It has been founded on decades of sound economic management and getting the big calls right.
Today, that requires preparation for the digital age and ensuring the nation’s infrastructure is equipped to handle it. It is only the Labor Government that understands this challenge.
Building the NBN today is as important as it was in the nineteenth century to build rail networks to ship our agricultural products to the coast.
It is as important as it was to connect the continent to the telegraph to provide up to date information on market prices.
It is as important as it was to build the Snowy Scheme to provide water for irrigation and harness the power of nature.
High-speed broadband is an incredible leap in telecommunications. In under one-tenth of a second a single fibre can carry a 100 years worth of traffic carried by the overland telegraph.
That is capacity we need now, and for the future.
In explaining the need for the NBN I have previously likened it to the decision back in the 1930s to build the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The bridge was built with a capacity far beyond what was necessary at the time. And its construction also opened up new possibilities; it created a corridor of growth opening up the area north of the harbour.
Within half a century, North Sydney became a thriving business community – the third largest CBD after Melbourne. The arc from North Sydney to Macquarie Park now houses a large part of Australia’s high tech industry.
Just like the ridge, the NBN is infrastructure that can handle the capacity of the future, as well as creating new opportunities.
That’s why I consider the Coalition’s rhetoric on the NBN so dangerous for our country’s future prospects. They are planning to give Australia the digital equivalent of a one-lane Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Transforming Australia: The Broadband Revolution and the Digital Economy focuses on how the NBN goes beyond connectivity. It shows how the NBN will improve education and health, increase productivity, create jobs and enhance services.
The book’s opinion pieces, case studies, profiles and features highlight the benefits fast and reliable broadband will deliver across industry. It informs Australians of the opportunities that the NBN will provide to households and businesses. It demonstrates how best to take commercial and community advantage of our broadband revolution.
Underpinning Australia’s National Broadband Network is the investment and innovation of a number of companies. Some of these are small firms, and some are global leaders in their fields.
All of them have been awarded contracts based on their experience in producing high quality, reliable products and services. The NBN is a large-scale project, affording them new opportunities, resources and skills. Their support for the publication of this bookis greatly appreciated.
The book will be a reminder to future generations of the great and bold initiative we are taking together.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen.