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Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications - 10/03/2011 - Role and potential of the National Broadband Network
Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications
House of Representatives committee
Thursday, 10 March 2011
Role and potential of the National Broadband Network

CHAIR (Ms Bird) —I declare open this public hearing of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications. The inquiry was referred by Minister Albanese on 16 November last year. To date we have received 196 submissions and expect more over the coming weeks. This is the committee’s first hearing for the inquiry outside Canberra. This morning we had the opportunity to visit Scottsdale, one of the first three NBN rollout sites, and we were able to inspect some of the NBN infrastructure for ourselves and hear from the locals about how the NBN is being used here. This afternoon we expect to hear more about Scottsdale’s experience from our first witness from Dorset Council, who joins us at the moment, and witnesses from the North East Tasmania Chamber of Commerce. We will also be hearing from Digital Tasmania, RDA Tasmania and the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association later this afternoon. The committee will then travel to Hobart for another public hearing tomorrow and conduct further hearings across Australia over the coming months.

This inquiry has a different focus to other NBN inquiries that have occurred in the past, that are underway presently or that are due to commence shortly. While those inquiries have focused primarily on technical matters, either to do with the design of the NBN or the corporate plans and governance of NBN Co., this inquiry is focused on how the NBN will be utilised across Australia. As is evidenced in the inquiry’s terms of reference, the committee has a broad range of areas to investigate, including the capacity of the NBN to contribute to health, education, business efficiencies and regional development. While the inquiry is less technically focused than others, dot point (i) in the terms of reference requires the committee to consider the optimal capacity and technological requirements of the NBN to deliver benefits in the areas of focus.

I remind any members of the media who are present of the need to fairly and accurately report the proceedings of the committee.

[1.34 pm]