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Thursday, 30 September 2010
Page: 339

Mr SIDEBOTTOM (2:24 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. How will high speed broadband, such as that being rolled out in my electorate, drive a modern, productive Australian economy?

Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for Braddon for his question. In answering this question, I say very clearly to the House that I have taken inspiration from the first speech in this parliament yesterday by the member for Greenway, who gave a great dissertation about the National Broadband Network. In her speech she reminded all of us that if you look across human history it is divided into those who embraced the challenges of the future and those who were stuck in the past. Inspired by the member for Greenway, I found another few examples of people who did not see fit to embrace the challenges of the future. Thomas Watson, the Chairman of IBM, said in 1943:

I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.

He might have missed the challenges of the future. HM Warner of Warner Bros said in 1927:

Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?

And Decca Records said in 1962:

We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.

These are a few examples of people who missed the challenges of the future. In the modern age we have the Leader of the Opposition saying that the National Broadband Network is a ‘white elephant’. That will join this series of quotes as yet another example of someone who cannot embrace the challenges of the future.

When we look for inspiration about the challenges of the future we should probably look at some of the studies around the world looking into the benefits of broadband. I draw the House’s attention to the United Nations Broadband Commission for Digital Development, which demonstrated the economic benefits of high speed broadband in its report:

In the 21st Century, broadband networks must be regarded as vital national infrastructure—similar to transport, energy and water networks, but with an impact that is even more powerful and far reaching.

The report goes on to say:

… for every 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration we can expect an average of 1.3 per cent additional growth in national gross domestic product (GDP) …

Broadband is the infrastructure of the future, which is why the government is committed to building it. Meanwhile, we see the other side on a mission of destruction to prevent Australia having this technology of the future.

Members of the parliament and members of the Australian public may have seen claims from the opposition about cost-benefit analyses and the National Broadband Network. I draw the attention of the House and members of the public to the fact that an independent McKinsey-KPMG implementation study has been conducted into the National Broadband Network. It was done at a cost of around $25 million and it has produced a weighty tome that makes War and Peace look like an airport novel. I recommend members, if they are seriously interested in understanding the economic benefits of the National Broadband Network, to look at that implementation study. We are committed to the technology of the future. I say to the opposition: it is time to stop the campaign of destruction, to recognise the benefits of the National Broadband Network and to work with the government to ensure that Australia gets this technology of the future.