Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
STANDING COMMITTEE ON INFRASTRUCTURE AND COMMUNICATIONS
18/04/2011
Role and potential of the National Broadband Network

CHAIR —Welcome. Although the committee does not require you to give evidence under oath, I should advise that the hearing is a legal proceeding of the parliament and therefore has the same standing as proceedings of the respective houses. We do have a written submission from you, but would you like to make a short address to that submission highlighting some issues? Then we will have a question-and-answer session.

Mr Jackson —Thank you, I will. The committee does have the council’s written submission, and we cover in that technical issues of an optical fibre network design that would be required to, we believe, maximise the benefits of that network to the nation. I would like in my verbal presentation to outline some of the benefits under the various categories that are in the terms of reference, bearing in mind that the network design considerations will significantly determine the extent to which the benefits can be derived.

The position that I am coming from is Brisbane City Council’s 12 years of working in the broadband space. In our 1999 economic development plan we highlighted the need for a Brisbane telecommunications infrastructure strategy. We then partnered with the Queensland government under the capital city policy, which was brought down in 1999-2000 to prepare the Brisbane and South-East Queensland telecommunications strategy of 2002. Subsequently I personally participated in a fact-finding trip to Canada arranged by the Canadian Consul General, including visits to Nortel; several companies in Utah and California in the United States, including Cisco Systems; and a number of local governments that were rolling out optic fibre in that country. Around the same time we partnered with the Queensland government in preparing a preliminary assessment under the PPP framework of the Queensland government for something called Project Vista, which envisaged an optical fibre telecommunications network to the home. That preliminary assessment was completed in 2003. Subsequently the Queensland government itself prepared a very detailed business case for that FTTP project and called for expressions of interest in late 2006, closing in February 2007, to roll out fibre to the premises right here in Brisbane. Subsequently the NBN was announced, so Project Vista proceeded no further.

It is worth reflecting that the NBN itself was conceived as a fibre-to-the-node project, which is significantly different from the concept that was being advocated under Project Vista. In the end the Commonwealth did not proceed with the fibre-to-the-node concept but instead unveiled the NBN concept we are now talking about, which is fibre to the premises. In 2008, my section in council was asked by the council to prepare a further business case for fibre to the premises in Brisbane. My discussion of the benefits will reflect on the benefits that we saw in the model that we were applying. The specifications of the network that we had envisaged was network ownership and operation entirely separate from the provision of applications and services over that network and symmetrical download and upload speeds starting at 100 megabits per second. All connected to the network were potentially able to provide services over the network. The question of points of interconnection did not arise in the same way as they arose in the NBN when considering the technology we were discussing and advocating.

Those receiving content or applications over the network would have a retail relationship obviously with their supplier, for example pay TV or something like that. All who upload data, content service and applications, whether they are a pay TV company, companies offering cloud computing services, individuals posting webpages or small businesses sending data between their offices would pay the network for the connection and the usage of the data on a volume basis under the model that we were considering. This architecture is simple, minimises cost of intermediaries in the network, lowers barriers to entry for new players wishing to offer their new services over the network and provides the maximum connectivity between those wishing to upload data services, applications et cetera and those who may wish to receive those services.

The instances that I am now going to describe apply to the network that was the subject of Brisbane City Council’s business case in 2008 and the early work on Project Vista. Referring to the terms of reference, certainly the delivery of government services and programs under the model that had been modelled in our 2008 work included connecting council worksites across the city to improve communications, efficiency and effectiveness and to reduce travel time. This would require high resolution two-way video content being transmitted over the network—teleworking for staff who would also require two-way video and virtual call centre capability as call centre staff can work for home with full access to the CRM—that is the customer relationship management systems that council would have in place.

In terms of the government side of things there are many other benefits that in the interests of time I am going to skip over. But certainly there would be benefit for achieving health outcomes—remote health is a major topic in its own right. There will be experts on that and I could read out my list but I will not do that to save time now. Improving the educational resources and training available for teachers and students also is a very important economic development matter. I will outline briefly some of the things: Brisbane itself as a city would be even more effective as a centre of remote education in Queensland and full participation by remote students would require two-way video links.

In the system that we had envisaged, the classroom would be able to be extended into a network learning community, providing rich online collaboration opportunities among students, their families and teachers and other learning centres. Once again rich video content is fundamental. New ways of learning would prevail through simulations, object learning and artificial intelligence systems, synthetic characters et cetera in real time, game based simulations and distance learning—again demanding a very high band width.

There are many other educational benefits which I could outline, but in the interests of time I will skip over those. Certainly the management of Australia’s built environment and natural resources and environmental sustainability, and things like smart metering of homes and businesses to manage energy and water use, are important. Obviously telecommuting does result in some energy savings, smart grids et cetera and there is quite a lot of literature on that.

Impacting regional economic growth and employment opportunities we see as absolutely the core to the rationale and that is why in our 1999 economic development plan and the subsequent economic development plans, including the 2006-11 economic plan which is current in council, we have been strongly advocating full connectivity. I will quote some benefits just to the Brisbane region that a true broadband system would provide. This is a quote from the 2006 work by the Allen Group. The Allen Group visualised and forecast that cost savings by business in upgrading from a narrow based internet system to a true broadband system would result in cost savings of about 4.8 per cent. Cost savings in the Australian economy overall would be about 0.19 of a per cent—that is nearly 0.2 of a per cent. But certainly the Brisbane and Moreton region economy would benefit by some $15 billion and some 15,000 jobs over the next 15 years if a broadband system was introduced of the type that we are envisaging.

In terms of economic growth, productivity is at the heart of competitiveness, economic growth and prosperity, and symmetrical next-generation broadband will increase the economy’s metabolic rate. Most industries will in fact increase their productivity and we can, at any time you choose, unpack in each business sector the sorts of benefits that you would envisage occurring.

In terms of business efficiencies and revenues, particularly for small and medium businesses and Australia’s export market, full open access is of particular benefit for small and medium businesses that operate multiple offices, depots or shops or need direct business-to-business connections with trading partners. They may not need an internet service provider at every site, and instead may need something more like a virtual wide-area network that they can manage themselves. This was a particular feature of the model that we visualised in our 2008 business case. The network envisaged by Brisbane City Council would be genuinely open. This includes all users having an ability to have multiple providers simultaneously, to be able to freely switch their own traffic between providers in real time without penalty, provide their own content or services to other users or their own remote sites, and use the network for point-to-point traffic without needing to use a content provider. This network structure that I have outlined presents the greatest potential for economic development through providing maximum opportunity for all end-users to innovate and create new applications and business opportunities over the network.

Interaction with research and development and related innovation business investments—that is the next point of the terms of reference—I will not elaborate on further, other than to say the internet was invented to increase the rate of innovation by Tim Berners-Lee at the CERN labs in Switzerland and, therefore, by definition the more you enhance the internet the more productive you become in terms of innovation and research et cetera.

Facilitating community and social benefits: there are many points that can be made about that. The optimal capacity and technological requirements of networks to deliver these outcomes: I will talk a little bit about that briefly. The benefits that we have visualised are contingent on a business model and network architecture that allows the potential of the technology to be fully exploited. Our written submission spells out some of these technical and business model characteristics. We have outlined what we see as the architecture that would provide the benefits. However, our understanding of the NBN is somewhat different. We understand that it is asymmetric, has much lower upload speeds than download speeds, and that end-users cannot be service providers. Council is concerned that a key feature of the business model that we were visualising is not provided for in the architecture of the NBN. The architecture of the NBN does not allow the full benefits and functionality of the technology to be realised. The architecture builds in costs that make the use of it more expensive than it needs to be, limiting the scope to bring down costs, maximise utilisation and make Queensland and Australia more competitive. This unnecessarily limits the additional jobs and export gains that the network may have potentially facilitated.

In the model that council visualised, an entity would build and operate an ultra high-speed broadband delivery network through which digital content and online service providers deliver their products and services to the end-users, so pay TV companies et cetera can download to their end-users and customers some of their services. However, in the business model envisaged by Brisbane City Council the end-user could also be a service provider. In other words, there was no distinction between the large providers of data on the network and small individual providers. They would all pay a connection fee, they would all pay on a usage basis, so the system would function pretty much like a wide-area network. The architecture that BCC envisaged would be more universal, so every connection is in fact a point of interconnect. The network is a mesh, not a hierarchy, allowing for millions of points of intersect or interconnect. Any point on the network can be a producer of services, a consumer of services or both simultaneously. Residents and businesses who want to host their own services can do so without having to go through an unnecessary ISP. Those wanting ISP services or specialist service providers are free to connect to as many of those as they wish, and large providers will be able to request higher bandwidths on their ports so that they can reticulate services over the network.

Under the NBN model, this latter feature of the Brisbane City Council model is absent and the flexibility and functionality of the network is highly constrained by the requirement to deal through an internet service provider. However, I would like to add at the end of this point that Brisbane City Council does visualise the NBN as it is currently proposed as providing vast advantages over the current copper-based system. However, we believe that the design of the network is such that it does not exploit the full advantage of the technology and that is an unnecessary constraint.

CHAIR —Great, thank you very much. I want to explore one area very quickly because I know my colleagues are all keen to ask questions too. I want to go to the issue that you raised around telecommuting, particularly as we are in a major city of the country and I know that every major city council is dealing with the issues of commuter-based movements in relation to physical transport infrastructure. I am wondering whether the council has a policy of telecommuting with its staff, how that operates and whether it has done any analysis of the potential of an expansion of that to alleviate some of the other challenges that council faces? On the other side of that, do you have any information on home-based businesses in the council area—their numbers, how they operate and so forth?

Mr Jackson —Yes, council does offer an ability for staff to log in and access the council network and therefore work from home. I do not have all of the technical details of that, but that is quite commonly used. It is not regarded as being state-of-the-art, but it does exist and people can access the council’s G drives et cetera from their home and work from home. Council does have a flexible workplace policy whereby people if they need to work from home can do so with the approval of their supervisors and so forth, depending on the needs of the business.

CHAIR —And you do not know how extensive that is in the council?

Mr Jackson —I do not know that, no.

CHAIR —Do you know if there is any information on home-based businesses in the city and their broadband connections and needs?

Mr Jackson —We have some information on that, but I would need to come back to you on that.

CHAIR —Would you mind the following up on that for us?

Mr Jackson —Yes.

CHAIR —That would be great.

Mr NEVILLE —I compliment you on this submission. It is one of the best we have had. It is succinct, it takes two or three aspects of the NBN and you give us your views very clearly and unequivocally and then you argue your case. You are not talking a lot of motherhood stuff; you just outline your reasons for it. Two particular areas appeal to me. One was your argument that council should be able to be its own wholesaler. I suppose that is fair enough because the NBN itself, over recent weeks, has proposed a similar model, although from what I have read so far it has not really spelt out how that would work. But you seem to take this a step further. You say that this could even spin down to small and medium businesses. The one thing all Australians want with this new network is structural separation. They do not want to go through the Telstra thing again at any price. And each time you soften the wholesale rules for NBN, you take a step closer to the old Telstra model. I would like you to argue for us how you came to that conclusion or why shouldn’t small and medium businesses go through providers. I am sure they would like it, I am sure they would like your model, but I am not sure that it keeps the economic integrity of the NBN together as well as it might.

Also, the former lord mayor some months ago spoke about the Brisbane City Council having its own networks. I did not know if that meant that the Brisbane City Council was going to run its own fibre or run its own fibre off the main network or whether it was going to do something like Canberra did some years ago with the coaxial cable. Could you incorporate in that answer how the council’s model meshes in? I would like you to look at those two aspects.

Mr Jackson —The first question relates to this idea of wholesalers and the relationship of small businesses to that. Bear in mind that I am not an engineer, but I have an understanding of the internet and its potential benefits, the way that digital technology actually works and most importantly the way that the technology determines the new business models. The model that we have been advocating is effectively like a large computer network across the whole of Australia, much like you would have in a large business. The function of the overarching entity that owns this network is to actually light the network up so it is an active network and it will operate according to rules. But it pretty much operates at a very fundamental level in the technology so that—

Mr NEVILLE —But there is still that principle of wholesaling and retailing.

Mr Jackson —Yes. The point that I am just going on to make is that the network owner would provide connectivity and the ability for anybody to actually pass information across that network. That is the service that is being offered. Some people do not want or need ISP services. They ought to be able to transact business over that network without needing an intermediary. However, many people may wish to have ISP services. On the design that is being envisaged by council, ISPs are perfectly free to operate and you may, if you choose, operate through an ISP, but you do not have to. The technology is perfectly capable of doing that. What we have in the NBN model is compulsory working through ISPs to get your access to the network; whereas, in the model that Brisbane City Council envisages you do not need that. You simply pay a connection fee and volume measure to the NBN and then quite separately you can buy any service you like from anybody else over the network.

Mr NEVILLE —I accept your broad architecture. Who becomes the arbiter of what NBN then charges these people who have their own internal wholesale network? Who is the arbiter of what they should be charged? Can they be charged differentially as between different small, medium or large businesses or government corporations? How do we avoid, in that wholesale scenario, the sort of thing that happened in the early days of Telstra where they were charging some of their wholesalers, like Optus and others, more than they were retailing at themselves? If NBN was in the same game, who becomes the arbiter of where the line is drawn or of the rules for charging these internal wholesalers or these people who have their own wholesale networks?

Mr Jackson —The charging regime that we modelled was a simple one. There was a connection fee paid to the NBN and there was a volume measure. Data that is uploaded through telephone calls, for example, is absolutely miniscule because they are so tiny in data. There is almost no charge at all for a telephone call. However, if you are uploading very rich content that is data intensive, it is a fee on the volume. So some sort of fee structure around the volume of data would have to be developed.

Mr NEVILLE —A flag fall first.

Mr Jackson —Yes.

CHAIR —When I was in the US one of the things that was raised was that one of the intrinsic problems with our system is databased charging, that it stifles innovation; the innovation tends to be at the rich end rather than the rich content end. Have you had a look at the fact that the alternate argument is that the volume-based charging systems are actually the ones that stifle innovation because the innovation tends to be at the high-tech, high volume end in terms of products and applications and so forth? The argument about how you price it is, as the deputy chair says, an issue that the other committee is looking at, but why do you assume it drives innovation, where do you make the connection?

Mr Jackson —The reason that the model we are envisaging drives innovation is that anybody can get onto the network and offer services and there are very few barriers to entry. Every point that is connected with optic fibre has this incredible sort of universal access and ability to upload. You have asserted that innovation is at the data intensive end et cetera. I do not have any information on that. I do not necessarily agree with that point.

Mr NEVILLE —I have another question I would like to ask you at the end if time permits but I would like to hear my colleagues on this, particularly Mr Fletcher, who has experience in this field.

Mr SYMON —You have been talking about your preference for a point-to-point network but you also identify the issue with the number of locations needed for exchanges and nodes under that type of system. You have identified up to 2,000 locations. Is that how many locations you propose would be needed for a network in a city the size of Brisbane?

Mr Jackson —No, we identified some 2,000 potential locations that could be made available for that. In a city the size of Brisbane we are envisaging something between 100 and 200 major nodes, if you like.

Mr SYMON —Is that in addition to what currently exists for Telstra?

Mr Jackson —This is just what would be required if you were starting from scratch and building the network as we are envisaging. Some of them could be Telstra, yes.

Mr SYMON —On the same issue, if you propose and accept a point-to-point network would there be some people in areas not in a city like Brisbane, in more remote areas, that could be disadvantaged by such a setup?

Mr Jackson —I cannot imagine why that would be so. Quite possibly you can have a mixture of technologies depending on what is appropriate in the particular area. For example, I know the NBN is talking about satellite, wireless et cetera. These are not inappropriate if that is what is required. The model we are talking about is that which would be suitable in a location like Brisbane.

Mr SYMON —I suppose my point is what suits a big city does not necessarily surge everywhere else.

Mr Jackson —That may be.

Mrs PRENTICE —I am fairly familiar with the Brisbane City Council and I would like to congratulate Mr Jackson on his continued perseverance on this.

Mr FLETCHER —Am I right in thinking that you have a concern that the NBN’s pricing construct might impede the full realisation of the benefits of such a network?

Mr Jackson —What I am saying is that there is a number of levels in the NBN system whereby additional parties come into it and put their charges on to the cost to the end user that may not need to be there, and inevitably you will have an increased cost. That would be my concern.

Mr FLETCHER —In particular, the pricing construct involves NBN Co. charging more as the volumes carried increase. Does that tend to provide a disincentive to an end user to increase the volumes that they are carrying?

Mr Jackson —If it is a volume based charge, there might be some sort of structure within that. I do not have details of that. One would have to work it out in the total framework of your connection fee, your volume charges and how you might structure those volume charges. You might have to work out some structuring.

Mr FLETCHER —What are the implications for the council or any other body contemplating building or procuring a network of the recently passed legislation which now makes it illegal to build a high-speed network for the purposes of delivering a retail service and imposes prescriptive requirements as to pricing if you are building a wholesale network?

Mr Jackson —I am just reflecting on the recent Four Corners program. There was a guy from AAPT who spoke. He pointed out that the fact that what he was doing would actually become illegal under the amended framework et cetera. I have some big concerns about that. In our submission we talked about the possibility that there might be regionalisation within the structure. The question arises: does the NBN itself have to be owned by a single entity or could it be owned by several entities on a regional basis, provided there are some uniform standards of interconnect? That is the issue. Those are some interesting explorations that one can look at. I am concerned about some of the aspects that were raised in that Four Corners program.

Mr FLETCHER —Brisbane City Council has been an innovator when it comes to broadband. Do these new laws make it harder for you to continue to innovate?

Mr Jackson —Brisbane City Council has been advocating positions on broadband. We are keen on optic fibre to the premises enabling the city. We are advocating that the best possible design ought to be used. We feel that we have a lot of knowledge about that from our years of work, and we are putting our position on that. We would be looking to collaborate with other parties that are interested in rolling out such a network and advocating what it could be.

Mr FLETCHER —In the work you have done in determining some of the benefits of building a network—for example, you talked about reduced travel time and so on—can we take it from that that it is your view that it is possible to itemise and indeed quantify the benefits of building a new network and then compare that against the cost of building such a network?

Mr Jackson —We have done a lot of work in that space within the constraints on our ability to apply resources to the task. What is clear is that there are some quantifications that can be done. But the terrific thing that everybody acknowledges with this new technology is that the future is significantly unknown. It is a question of what you can imagine and then go out and create. We think that that is a big upside on the broadband. Like others, we have looked at a number of things that we can imagine today.

Mr FLETCHER —It sounds like you would not accept the proposition that it is simply impossible to compare costs and benefits with a broadband network.

Mr Jackson —I am sorry; I do not understand.

Mr FLETCHER —You would not accept the proposition that it is simply impossible to compare the costs with the benefits of a broadband network.

Mr Jackson —I think we can go some way down that track.

Mr STEPHEN JONES —In your written submission you say that the council is consistently advocating that the NBN be built on a wholesale-only model. Yet, if I understand some of the things that you say subsequently, NBN, in your submission, should be able to operate as a retail service provider or what most people currently understand to be a retail service provider.

Mr Jackson —This goes to the heart—and I think an earlier question is relevant here. I think this whole issue of wholesale and retail is very confusing and is probably inappropriate. This is where I think one is starting to lack clarity in the discussion. I prefer not to talk in terms of wholesale and retail; I talk about business relationships. The relationship that we are advocating for a network is that there be a network owner and operator which is entirely separate from the provision of services and applications over that network. Fundamentally, the two cannot mix. However, the work and the task of the network owner and operator is simply to light up the fibre and provide a governance regime over that network so that it is not abused and so forth. But there can be as many service providers over that network as you can imagine and that wish to do that. This whole concept of wholesale and retail is really not a helpful discussion. It is the separation of the provision of service and the content from the ownership and operation of the network. ISPs are a service and content provider. That is what an ISP is.

Mr STEPHEN JONES —I understand at the margins there is a lack of clarity around the distinction between wholesale and retail but certainly in the centre there is not. At what point does somebody add enough value in the service delivery that they no longer become a retail provider and start to provide content? It is more than a billion?

Mr Jackson —I appreciate that there will be definitions around the way that the NBN has been conceptualised by those who have designed it and I appreciate that you may have clarity there. However, I am speaking in different terms and very simple terms. In the model that Brisbane City Council investigated, the actual operation and lighting up of the network is done by one set of entities to a point where others can use their own systems to deliver the packets of services over that network and they might have a whole variety of relationships with their customers. So it is the uploading of packets that is what the users of the network will do. It is the provision of the facility to upload those packages that is what the network owner and operator would do. That is a very simple concept. The relationship that the people who upload packets have with their end users can be many and various and you can give them whatever names you like. That is the conceptualisation that we are doing in the 2008 business case. It is quite a different concept, I suppose, in some ways.

Mr HUSIC —Given the amount of consideration the council has dedicated towards scoping up potential networks and the benefits of those networks to its operations, has council conducted any work to consider how we can maximise the benefits of the NBN to its own operations—for example, picking up on the question put by the chair, home based work for its employees, smart metering, so that council can keep tabs from an infrastructure perspective and balance resource needs against the performance of its internal networks, and things such as cloud computing? Have you done any work on that? If you have, can you outline some of those benefits and, if you have not, do you intend to?

Mr Jackson —I am not aware of any detailed investigation the Brisbane City Council has done on the application of an NBN to the things that you have outlined. We are certainly looking at the benefits and the possibilities that these things exist and we do, as I have mentioned, allow our employees to work from home using their current broadband situation. We have not gone into business cases at this stage specifically applying NBN technologies to our workplace.

Mr HUSIC —You were taken in the first question of Mr Fletcher to perceived concerns about price structure. Can you just point out where in your submission the cost of the NBN from a pricing perspective sits?

Mr Jackson —We have highlighted throughout the submission the introduction of the extra layer in the design of the network and I regard the presentation that I am now making as part of the overarching matters that I would like the committee to take into account.

Mr HUSIC —Is there anything in there specifically about the proposed pricing of NBN as would be experienced by an end user, or is it more to do with point-to-point versus PON?

Mr Jackson —We have raised some matters under the heading ‘d. Cost’.

Mr HUSIC —But that goes back to my other question about whether this is more point-to-point, not the actual—

Mr Jackson —Yes, it does

Mr HUSIC —Thank you.

Mr NEVILLE —We might ask you to expand on this on notice; the time does not permit having a long debate on it. I was also fascinated by your juxtapositioning of point-to-point services against point-to-multipoint services. You make a very strong case for point-to-point, and I accept your argument that further down the track it may be cheaper and that you could spend up to $3 billion rolling it, as distinct from the other, out. I do not claim to be technically erudite in these matters. Can you explain to me in layman’s terms what the basic difference is in architecture and what the failure of the passive optical network, or the point-to-multipoint network, is? How does it look as compared with point-to-point, in simple terms?

Mr Jackson —The point-to-point is an optic fibre line from the exchange to the premises, and there is equipment on either end to make the thing work. The passive optic system is a fibre from the exchange to a splitter, which is like a hosepipe with multiple bits coming off it. It does not have any extra electronics on it; it just takes the signal coming from the exchange and then divides it into, say, 30-odd different strands. So if you get 100 megabits coming out of the exchange it will be subdivided into 30 different subcomponents. So you are diluting the capacity being pumped out at the exchange. That is the simple difference. You get a dilution of the capacity through the PON system versus the direct system.

CHAIR —Can I just clarify. I thought the information we got in Tasmania when we visited the site was that it was not diluted once it was split. So I am just wondering—

Mr NEVILLE —Yes, that is what I wanted to understand; it seemed to be contrary to what we had been told.

Mr Jackson —That is my understanding of the way PON works. There are passive splitters that actually take the signal and split it out into multiple components—

Mr NEVILLE —You are saying that NBN is going to do this right across the country?

Mr Jackson —My understanding is that NBN in some cases may roll out direct fibre—I have read that—but the majority of premises will be connected up with this PON system such that each household or business will then be on the end of a PON system, with that inherent characteristic that I have mentioned to you. That is the difference.

Mr NEVILLE —I see.

CHAIR —I think we might get some clarification on that as well, because that is completely different to what NBN Co. told us in Tasmania about the splitting.

Mr NEVILLE —Would you be prepared to do us a—

CHAIR —I think we might get that independently, because Mr Jackson has provided his information.

Mr Jackson —Certainly.

CHAIR —The Deputy Chair has said we might want to follow up with you. Can I just indicate that part of my frustration with this process is that you have as a council put an awful lot of time and effort into thinking of models and structures and obviously a lot of experience, and yet I do not get a sense from the submission of why you did it. Our terms of reference are: when this thing rolls out, what do you want to do with it? It would be really interesting if you would explain what drove council to do this huge task, what benefits you saw and how you thought it would transform the city.

Mr Jackson —Do you want an answer later or now?

CHAIR —If you do not mind, we might try to catch up with you again—perhaps get you to come down to Canberra—to talk about that.

Mr Jackson —Certainly.

CHAIR —The decision is made; it is rolling out. Somebody like your council made a big call quite a long time ago that this was important for economic development, for innovation and for lifestyle, and I would really like to know what specifically you were looking to achieve and whether there are other things that need to be done in conjunction with that. One of the things we have had a lot of evidence about is that key leaders in towns and cities understand it and drive it but the broader community, particularly the business community—for example, we have heard some pretty sad stories from the tourism sector—may lack the capacity to keep up with what you are envisaging. Are there projects that the council has done to bring groups along in that process that could be replicated—projects that you thought were particularly useful—or gaps where you think federal government could look at providing some support and programs to maximise the benefit that we are talking about? It is clear from your submission that the council has made a huge commitment and put in a huge amount of time, energy and thought, so I would really like to get that picture from you about what drove that, what you wanted to achieve. If possible, we will get you down to Canberra to have a talk about that.

Mr Jackson —Certainly.

CHAIR —I just want to reflect the Deputy Chair’s comments. It is very exciting to see a council that got this, ran with it and drove it. In your rollout there would have been disagreement around aspects of models and things like that, but I assume that along with that went a whole lot of soft infrastructure and education development programs. We are really keen to hear about that. Thank you very much for that. If you can just get that to us, we will follow up with a Canberra hearing if that is a possibility for you.

Mr Jackson —Yes.

CHAIR —Fantastic. Thank you for your attendance here today. The additional information we have asked you to provide you can forward through to the secretary in the same way you did with the submission. Thank you very much for your time and effort; we look forward to some more.

Mr Jackson —Thank you very much.

[9.59 am]