Question Without Notice - Broadband

Ms BIRD ( Cunningham ) ( 14:18 ): My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister outline the next steps in providing high-speed broadband to all Australians through the National Broadband Network?
Ms GILLARD ( Lalor — Prime Minister ) ( 14:18 ): I thank the member for Cunningham for her question. In this parliament she represents a community which knows what it is like to undergo structural change, a community that is working together understand ing that there are some job losses in steelmaking which they need to confront but a community which is fighting back and making sure it has a plan for its economic future . Making steel will be part of that economic future but I know her community is looking forward to the benefits that the National Broadband Net work can and will bring to businesses in her electorate, increasing their productivity. T hat is because people in her electorate and people right around the country get the commonsense proposition that we as a nation cannot compete if we are using yesterday's technology. We have a great resources sector, but imagine if it were t rying to compete in the world using picks and shovels instead of forefront technology. Imagine if manufacturing were using hand tools instead of robotics in the forefront of technology. Of course they would not be able to compete .

What is true for an individual business is true for our whole nation. We need to have the best of technology to be able to compete in the world, which is why we are determined to roll out the National Broadband Network to ensure Australians get the benefits of the best of that technology and that we do not fall behind the standards of the world. The 100-year-old copper wire network has done very well indeed but it will hold us back in the future. It does not have the capacity to do what we will need to do in the future. If anyone doubts the benefits to productivity of having the kind of ICT which broadband can bring, what we know from international experience is that 70 per cent of product innovation is linked to ICT and 73 per cent of process innovation in manufacturing is linked to ICT. We need those benefits here.

Today we have made an important announcement about how Australians who live in the most remote parts of our country will get benefits too in terms of faster technology. We have announced that we will join with NBN Co. and Space Systems/Loral in putting up two satellites which will improve services for Australians who live in the most remote places. We do not want to see them left behind. We want them to get a better service and to pay the same uniform wholesale price as Australians in other parts of the country. This is a vital step in moving us to the new technology we will need for our future economy. (Time expired)