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Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Page: 798

Ms COLLINS (Parliamentary Secretary for Community Services) (4:54 PM) —It is interesting that we just heard from the previous speaker about telecommunications and the National Broadband Network. What I want to talk about is Regional Development Australia Tasmania’s economic and community development forum that was held in southern Tasmania on 6 October. One of the things that they talked about at that forum was the excellent opportunities for local, state and federal governments to deliver new services, particularly services to regional and rural Australia.

The forum looked at the NBN in a session and an e-health adviser, Ros Hill, gave an excellent presentation about how the NBN will change the nature of health care for those who live in rural and regional communities. In August of this year, at the launch of the National Broadband Network with the Prime Minister, I witnessed the new technology. We had an opportunity to talk to a wonderful woman, Peggy, who is using the National Broadband Network to help her manage her health complaints. The quote from Peggy was that it was like having a friend in her own home. She felt secure and safe with the e-health facility in her home where she could talk to practitioners about some of her health concerns, and they could monitor her in her own home, so she did not have to travel to appointments. It was remarkable to see it working.

Ros Hill’s presentation to Regional Development Australia Tasmania also covered the importance of the NBN in relation to establishing patient controlled records. Of course, it is the Labor government that has committed money to patient controlled electronic health records, and it is the opposition that proposed to cut that funding and to cut the move to electronic health records as part of their election commitments and savings.

The NBN is about more than just faster downloads; it is about a transformation of services in regional and rural Australia as well as the metro cities. It will mean that people in rural and regional Australia will have access, sometimes for the first time, to specialists and services that they would not otherwise have access to. It is going to be one of the greatest improvements to service delivery in those areas that we have seen for generations.

If you come to Tasmania you can see some of this technology live, and it is really exciting to see it. We are talking about interfaces and equipment that are getting smaller and smaller and more user friendly for the end user, who often are patients in the case of e-health, and obviously in services such as education, e-commerce and agribusiness. They can now all be conducted with improved technology such as the National Broadband Network.

In my own electorate people are really looking forward to the rollout of the National Broadband Network. Whilst for them it is still a year or so off, they are very excited. My office is getting many calls not just about the faster downloads but about the innovation and the technologies that will be received. (Time expired)