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Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications
27/05/2011
Role and potential of the National Broadband Network

BIRKS, Mr Ian Thomas, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Information Industry Association

ROCHE, Ms Suzanne, Director, Australian Information Industry Association

Committee met at 08:34

CHAIR ( Ms S Bird ): I declare open this public hearing of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications in Canberra, which is likely to be our last hearing for this inquiry. The committee is due to report by the end of August. The inquiry was referred by Minister Albanese on 16 November last year. To date we have received around 231 submissions. Today is our 14th hearing for the inquiry, on top of which we have held a number of very useful site inspections. This inquiry has a different focus to other NBN inquiries that have occurred in the past or are under way presently, for those inquiries have focused primarily on technical matters to do with either the technical design of the NBN or the corporate plans of the NBN Co. This inquiry is focused on how the NBN will be utilised across Australia. As is evident from 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, point (i) in the terms of reference requires the committee to consider the optimal capacity and technological requirements for the NBN to deliver the benefits in the other areas of focus.

Before asking our first witnesses to introduce themselves, I remind any members of the media who may be present or listening on the web of the need to fairly and accurately report the proceedings of the committee. I welcome representatives of the Australian Information Industry Association. Although the committee does not require you to give evidence under oath, I advise you that the hearing is a legal proceeding of the parliament and therefore has the same standing as proceedings of the respective houses. We have had a written submission from you. Would you like to make an opening statement?

Mr Birks : Thanks for the opportunity to appear before the committee. We are the peak industry body in Australia for the information and communications technical sector, ICT. We represent over 400 small, medium and large suppliers of ICT products and services. The ICT industry is a global one. Its domestic competitiveness depends on ready access to high-speed and ubiquitous broadband services to help us enable exports in an increasingly complex trading environment. Our industry solutions are also a critical enabler of all other sectors in our economy, including mining, agriculture, health, education, transport, the not-for-profit sector and so on. Seamless delivery of services and smart applications in these economic sectors, particularly to the underserved regions of Australia, will be greatly facilitated by ubiquitous high-speed broadband. It will help to unite remote communities and to boost civic engagement for everyone. However, we believe that simply thinking of these matters in terms of what can be done today with applications is unsound. History has shown us repeatedly that new ideas, new applications and new capabilities will rapidly emerge to take advantage of any fundamental enabling infrastructure. The benefits available from a ubiquitous high-speed broadband will take many forms. New applications and services for consumers, more competitive business models for businesses, improved service delivery for government agencies—in short, these new and even unimagined applications can deliver a digital economy to all of Australia, driving efficiencies across all economic sectors and into all geographic areas. AIIA also considers that the positive impacts of a digital economy supported by high-speed broadband will drive much-needed increases in Australia's productivity performance.

There are some key reference points that I refer to here. In regard to the digital economy Access Economics found in 2009 that adopting smart technologies in electricity, irrigation, health, transport and broadband will increase GDP by 1.5 per cent within 10 years. It will increase the net present value of GDP between $35 billion and $80 billion in the first 10 years and add more than 70,000 jobs to the economy by 2014 alone. In the productivity dimension, DCITA assessed productivity growth in manufacturing and services industries between 1985 and 2000. In service industries up to 65 per cent of multifactor productivity growth was driven by ICT, and in the manufacturing industry the same figure was higher than 75 per cent.

I now look at some international comparatives. In France the digital economy represents 20 per cent of overall growth in the economy from 2004 to 2009, adding €60 billion and 1 million jobs. The UK internet economy is estimated to be worth ₤100 million per year and is growing at 10 per cent a year. Internet industries employ over 250,000 people in the UK. In Germany the ICT internet sector is the second biggest employer, providing over 850,000 jobs.

AIIA believes that the design of the National Broadband Network delivers a well-optimised solution for our somewhat unique geographical challenges. By deploying a fibre-to-the premises network augmented by wireless and satellite it provides a solid but, we believe, future-proof design which maximises opportunity to ensure long-term economic growth. Many other solution approaches to broadband rollout which have been socialised do not maximise the long-term economic growth potential to anything like the extent that the NBN system will enable. AIIA believes that the NBN model balances the competing challenges of Australian geography, affordability and ubiquity. As one of its terms of reference this committee is rightly looking at the potential of the NBN to facilitate social and community benefits. Given Australia's unique demographics and remote geography, we see the NBN as key to the reduction of social and community isolation in regional areas. As the chair of this committee has said in the past:

Over the long term, regions are the drivers of growth in the Australian economy. So whilst the cities are, if you like, the headline growth drivers of the wellbeing of the nation, if they are doing well but the regions are dying on the vine then overall we are not doing well. So it is important that regional development policy addresses linking regions into growth opportunities and encouraging them beyond that to actually become drivers of innovation, productivity and national growth themselves. The regions are the place where those great opportunities for the nation actually are.

AIIA can see no better platform to link those remote regions' national and international growth opportunities than the NBN.

CHAIR: I will not take issue with a direct quote from myself. As a member of a region, as many of us on the committee are, I do appreciate the value of the points that you were making more broadly. I want to take you to page 8 of your submission. One of the things that have emerged for us—it may have been there before but it has come to our attention increasingly during the period of the inquiry—is cloud based services. One of the evolving issues of concern for us was the development of expertise in and indeed the physical cost of infrastructure for pushing out capacity into regional areas and particularly, for example, small councils and so forth. I am quite interested in the points you make about how the cloud development will facilitate that. Could you give us your most up-to-date perspective on that issue?

Mr Birks : We see cloud computing as a really transformative force in terms of how technology can be used. It is not just a change in terms of our sector's delivery model; it is actually a transformative force in the way other sectors can use technology. The essential difference with cloud is that you can scale it up or scale it down very quickly; you can take on board traditional computer resources whenever you need them and effectively it becomes something like a utility, in the way power or water are available today, for computer power. That is really significant because it allows organisations to rapidly create new businesses and new business models, and governments to rapidly create new service delivery paradigms and have them available very quickly. If they do not succeed in a business sense they can be turned off and others can be created equally quickly. Where we have elastic needs for computing, where we tend to have spikes in certain types of environments—

CHAIR: I would like your view on whether I am correct on this. When we were in Brisbane we had evidence that during the floods the council had really good mapping information but there was such a rush of people trying to access it that the site went down. Is that what you mean by that sort of service?

Mr Birks : It is. Interestingly in that Brisbane context I had a presentation from the Queensland Police Service recently that showed Facebook became the mechanism by which Queensland police provided a great deal of information the community, and indeed the community uploaded information back to tell what was happening in their street or suburb with the floods. That is a great example of how the cloud can provide a ubiquitous service that is scalable, because Facebook is such a large global international site it is effectively a cloud offering. It was able to manage the massive peaks in usage that occurred as a result of the floods. I believe that the council website and a lot of the regular information websites basically became overloaded and collapsed. That constant availability of information in the cloud and its ability to be scaled is very significant. The other thing to understand about a cloud computing model, particularly for regional areas and small and medium businesses, is that they do not need to have any understanding of how the technology works and do not need to make technology infrastructure in their own offices. Essentially they draw down on it when they need it and they turn it on and off as they need it. So there is a great saving there in terms of complexity for people to get on board with technology.

CHAIR: I would like your comments on the issue of regional engagement. It is becoming apparent to us as we go around that there is a great divergence in expertise and knowledge across regions. When you go to a region you can tell where some champions active in the ICT sector or in some way engaged have been taking an informal role of educating their communities by talking about these issues. Where that is lacking you find a 'this sounds great but we do not really understand what it is' type of attitude. To some extent I think change in the sector itself has been so rapid and pervasive that they have been talking amongst themselves a lot. Have you seen good models for taking these conversations out into the broader community, and what aspects of that sort of engagement do you see as successful ways to do that?

Mr Birks : Whilst we are here representing the ICT sector, I agree that a lot of the transformative change in taking advantage of the NBN and the digital economy needs to be coming from the other sectors in terms of understanding and utilisation of the availability of technology. I think it is really important that we raise the understanding of what is possible and we encourage other sectors and communities to think about the relevance of these kinds of technologies and options to their own rural and regional areas. We have found that working directly with other industry associations and community groups is a quite an effective way to do that. Getting close to the National Farmers' Federation or other industry sector groups that have a lot of resonance in rural and regional communities and providing information for their newsletters and information for them to take to their constituency has been quite an effective way. You do really need to create informed and engaged people in those communities who can take forward the understanding. I think your point is valid.

Ms Roche : You are right that there are some particular issues in the regions and in remote areas as well, but overall we are changing the paradigm about how we work, how we educate, how we deliver services. An issue that Ian and I have talked about often is that we need a digitally enabled workforce overall. We need to look at what the specific issues are in regional areas but overall we need to understand that to really leverage the sorts of opportunities that are available through high-speed broadband we have to start changing the mindset of how we all work.

We have to start thinking about how we can do things in a way that is not paper based, how we can apply for things in a way that is not about filling in a form, and how we can go and see someone without standing in queue. So the issue in the regions is one that needs to be addressed but overall we need to have a broader perspective about how we enable the whole workforce and the whole community to take advantage of this. It is partly a skills thing and a generational thing but it is also about changing the mindset and starting to understand that this is fundamentally about doing things differently. It is not layering new technology on how we do things now. To see the real return on this investment we have to be encouraging people to do things differently.

CHAIR: That is very useful. In your submission you also go to the issue of the not-for-profit sector and the broader engagement, which is a very important aspect of this as well. I have seen a couple of examples myself of people in the ICT sector whose volunteer contribution to their local community is through providing their expertise to local organisations. Do you want to highlight some particular examples of things that you feel work effectively in the not-for-profit sector in this area that we might look to encourage the government to pursue?

Mr Birks : I have personal connectivity with the not-for-profit sector—my wife is involved in that sector. Often in the not-for-profit sector the community of interest seeks to be engaged in a very detailed way with the not-for-profit organisation. It is almost like there is a bigger sense of commitment to that than to anything else you might join up for, because it is a personal passion of yours, whatever it is. Our industry has technologies that allow for that kind of very personalised, very comprehensive communication to take place very effectively. Not-for-profits are typically very poorly resourced from a funding perspective. They do not have a lot of time to focus on things like technology; they are normally very focused on providing services for their constituents and members. Technology finds a pathway for a lot of that to be addressed. Even things like online websites for giving—sites like everydayhero.com.au, which is a website that allows any not-for-profit to very rapidly put up a promotional page for their fun run or activity or whatever it is, drive donations through it, track it in very interesting ways and see how people are going against objectives and all those kind of things. That is just an example. That whole availability of that kind of capability is transformative for not-for-profits. It means they no longer have to send out hundreds and thousands of letters and have people on phones answering calls. There is great opportunity for technology to have a very big impact in the not-for-profit sector.

CHAIR: It is a good example we can go and look at in more detail.

Mr NEVILLE: Ms Roche, I was taken by your comment that there has to be appreciation in the community that this is a new way of doing things. You are obviously an organisation that covers a very wide field—you have 400 top-line members of various companies: providers, retailers and all sorts of people—so you have a ubiquity in your own right, so to speak, as to how the system will work. What is your take so far on how the technology might be used, say in hospitals? People have waxed lyrical about this, and we have seen some very good demonstrations at the University of Melbourne, but are provincial hospitals embracing this? Is there a lot of e-medicine going on between the Ballarats, Dubbos and Bundabergs of the world and their capital city hospitals? What is your take thus far? What have you seen thus far?

Mr Birks : Suzanne is the chair of our electronic health task force.

Ms Roche : The whole e-health agenda has been progressing over the last 10 or 11 years. I can remember talking in 1999 about the concept of e-health and for a long time we have been talking about electronic health records and telehealth and all these sorts of things. You are right; they are developing.

Mr NEVILLE: But are they developing in line with this rapid expansion of speed and ubiquity?

Ms Roche : There are a couple of things that we need to understand there. One is that you have the National E-Health Transition Authority and the government is currently putting in place a whole range of frameworks that do not enable the technology to do that but enable the types of technology that are being built to be able to talk to each other and share information in ways they can all understand. That is one thing that has been happening that has had to happen and it takes a very long time to happen before some of the technology—things that are happening in hospitals, medical clinics or whatever—can be better leveraged. The other thing is that with big public institutions like hospitals it takes a long time to change the technology platforms they are using, because they are very costly, and change the business practices—how things are actually being done.

Mr NEVILLE: I can think of a couple of hospitals in central Queensland—without naming them; this is not to embarrass them—that still put patients in ambulances and aerial ambulances and send them up and down the coast, down to the Sunshine Coast, down to Brisbane, up to Rockhampton. Although this technology will enable people to do it, I wonder whether in practice there is a—I come back to your original statement that there has to be an appreciation of a different way of doing things. Is that paradigm infiltrating health, education and these fields at this stage? Bear in mind that that is the term of reference you referred to in your opening comment. We have to tell the government how you use this new technology. I am anxious to hear what you feel is happening beyond the theory.

Mr Birks : I think there are pockets of usage. There are people who are early adopters or very keen to take advantage of this. There are some great examples of those, and I have seen them in Queensland as well—some doctors providing telehealth, telemedicine, over long distances, and it is a very effective way to consult. But in truth they are probably the exception rather than the norm at the moment. The biggest single issue, I would say, in electronic health is not the technology. The technology has been around for a long time. It is improving all the time. It is becoming more and more rich in terms of what it can do. Really the biggest challenge in electronic health is the change management challenge. That is the point you were going to in the sense of—

Mr NEVILLE: On page 11 of your submission you have a boxed section where you quote—

Ms Roche : The US study?

Mr NEVILLE: The US study from Harvard. I suppose that if we divide those figures by about 13—I think we are about one-thirteenth the size of the US in population—we will see the potential for this technology to save a lot of money. I am anxious to know from you whether the health departments in the various states are really into this or whether they are waiting for the whole thing to be rolled out.

Ms Roche : Without question they are ready to go. I do not have any doubt about that at all. Personally I believe that it comes back to what we were saying earlier. Some of these things are complex things to do. They take a certain time and need certain frameworks to be in place, whether they are policy or regulatory or to do with the technology. But I think there is no doubt at all about their being committed to this agenda.

Mr NEVILLE: The other thing I was anxious to talk to you about—and this is not said with criticism—is that you waxed lyrical about the marvellous things this is going to do for regional and remote Australia. But bear in mind that the NBN rollout is not going to the last seven per cent—at least not initially.

CHAIR: Not the fibre.

Mr NEVILLE: Exactly. And, of course, there will be speed restrictions with wireless and satellite. My question to you in representing all of the companies that you do is: are you satisfied that wireless and satellite will be sufficient to engage those very remote areas and those more distant provincial cities with the system? It is one thing to talk about the marvellous things that will happen for remote areas but, if the speed is not a lot better than what they have now, will they be able to engage with the capital cities? We have all talked, and all of the witnesses have talked to us, about ubiquity. But ubiquity does not exist if you are on a very slow link at your end, no matter how fast the fibre might be in the capital city hospital or school or university that is pumping the information out.

Ms Roche : There are two points that I think are important here. One is that I think it is unfortunate that the seven per cent that are on wireless, in particular, and on satellite have been regarded by some people as being on a second-rate service, because they are not. It is an appropriate solution for an appropriate geographic issue that we have. This comes to the second point. In terms of wireless, it is a shared access technology. It is built and engineered around numbers of users. As long as it is engineered to support a known number of users, it will deliver the high-quality service that it is said to deliver. The reason it does not work in a metro area is that you have more and more people trying to take a tiny bit of that cake. But, in a regional area, built appropriately, it can actually manage that. In that respect there really should be no expectation at all that they would suffer any degradation of service.

Mr NEVILLE: What sorts of speeds would be required for the seven per cent in the wireless and satellite technologies? What speed would we need to guarantee to allow them to get into this ubiquitous world we are talking about?

Mr Birks : NBN Co. is currently proposing 12 megabits per second as peak speed for the wireless and satellite areas. Our industry believes that that 12 megabits per second is a reasonable lowest common denominator, if you like, in terms of ubiquity, as we spoke about earlier, and that it can be utilised, as Suzanne suggested, through to rural and regional areas to give them the performance they need, provided there is not a great deal of contention.

Mr NEVILLE: My concern is—

Mr Birks : Can I just add as well that I do think that that technology will continually improve. It is not a case of that being fixed at that level. That level will continue to improve over time.

Mr NEVILLE: When we went to the University of Melbourne, they gave us a number of demonstrations, many of them in the health and allied health fields. They were talking in terms of a minimum of 20. That is my concern. In that seven per cent, at the end, will 12 be enough or should we be looking at a slightly better technology or a next generation in that area?

Mr Birks : It is a very reasonable question to ask. I think what will happen is that, because it is known as 12, industry will partner with providers to make sure they deliver services that can be utilised at that level. I understand your point that they may not be as fully functional as services that may be delivered—

Mr NEVILLE: And they are the very people who are going to need it. That is the point.

Mr Birks : But they will still be valid services. This is to Suzanne's point. I do not believe they will be second-class services; I just believe that they will be engineered to take advantage of that level and that level will continue to improve over time.

Mrs PRENTICE: I will take up the deputy chair's point about the wireless and satellite users at the end. You mentioned 12 megabits per second. If you are doing health diagnostics in real time, is that really fast enough up and down, which is what the deputy chair was asking? Back on Suzanne's point: how many people doing that in a similar time frame will then start to have an impact on the service that everyone has?

Mr Birks : I think these are fair questions and ones that are probably not fully resolved in terms of technical implementation. There are some emerging technologies from CSIRO and others to take advantage of better outward transmission of those speeds. So it is possible that those speeds might be more certain than we originally expected in terms of the technology and design. It is a hard question to answer in terms of exactly what speed will be available to every individual at any particular time. But it is our overarching point of view and it is the point of view of industry in general that what has been architected is as good a solution as could reasonably be expected to be architected at this time with the technologies that are available. Your other question was in reference to whether it is fast enough for a medical service delivery. Again, I think those things are evolving rapidly. Compression technologies are evolving rapidly in terms of how images get transferred from place to place.

Mrs PRENTICE: Isn't that the whole point of NBN with regard to delivering it down this way? Compression is very expensive. That is what we are doing at the moment. What is supposed to be the great advantage is that we will not have to use that costly method going forward.

Mr Birks : I suppose I would just make the point that things are evolving all the time here. Again, it is difficult to answer that question with any degree of certainty without saying that it is a particular style of medical consultation or operation that is taking place. It is difficult to answer that. But I believe that the Institute of Broadband-Enabled Studies in Melbourne and the New South Wales equivalent is doing some very solid work on testing those kinds of situations on test beds and is learning a lot through the process.

Ms Roche : I am not a technical expert in this, so I am not going to claim that I am. But, when you start thinking like that, one of the solutions is to extend the fibre further. Then, as we have said, the NBN, which is a compilation of different technologies to deliver services to all Australians, at the end of the day is really about a compromise between geography, affordability and ubiquity. In that respect, we think it is a very valid solution.

Mrs PRENTICE: I am not doubting that. Our point is merely that we are talking up NBN because of delivering e-health to people in remote and regional areas. Our concern is that, with wireless and satellite, we are actually going to cause more of a digital divide than we have now.

CHAIR: It may be important for us to provide advice to the government on finding ways to leverage that 12 per cent, as you have described it.

Mr NEVILLE: That is the point I was making before.

Ms Roche : It is a valid point. You have probably seen in real life some of these issues, so in some respects you are certainly better qualified than I am to be able to respond to the numbers questions about up-and-down speed loads.

Mrs PRENTICE: In Scottsdale, where we saw one of the trial sites, we were disappointed in the take-up. As you have identified, there are so many opportunities that NBN will be providing. Do you see a role for people like your industry association in trying to educate and promote NBN to get better take-up from the community, particularly when it is at no cost?

Mr Birks : It is a good question. I note that the take-up numbers are improving on the mainland early release sites, but they are still not as high as perhaps they could and should be.

Mrs PRENTICE: I would have thought it would be 100 per cent.

Mr Birks : But, on the process I spoke about earlier, we are engaging with a lot of the community organisations, the industry associations and bodies and so on in other sectors. For us to engage with the whole of the consumer population is not achievable given our resources. But to work through those kinds of organisations to inform them and get them to be the messengers to their own constituencies is what we are doing. We think that that is probably the most effective way to get some of that transfer happening.

Mr SYMON: I would like to ask about convergence. It is something that we hear a lot about in terms of TV and other communications services, but this is one of the first submissions I have read where you have actually gone into convergence of digital services over the NBN. That is good to see, because, as you said in your opening remarks, a lot of services that are going to be using the NBN and applications are not here yet. I would like you to expand on what you have put in your submission in terms of convergence of media, because I think it is going to be the great driver of the use of the NBN.

Mr Birks : I guess we are seeing that the internet is a great change agent in terms of how people use technology, the applications that are used, but also how it changes industries. We have seen this in the retail sector already in terms of the change caused by online shopping dynamics versus conventional shopping and so on. So it is broader than just an effect of an individual; it is actually economic and social and it goes beyond traditional geographical boundaries as well. What we are seeing in the US, for example, is very high take-up of video on the internet. A company called Netflix in the US has become an extremely aggressive user of video. They have effectively put Blockbuster, which was the old video style delivery, out of business by delivering online video downloadable to their customers. Netflix has become a very large part of the internet traffic within the US. That points to the fact that delivery of entertainment and information programming and so on over the internet is becoming very rapidly consumed—faster in the US than here, but certainly I think it will happen here as well. Just that indicator sends you to the point that some convergence here that traditionally would have been provided through broadcasting channels is now going to be available through internet channels. Therefore, the organisations that have embraced digital as a delivery mechanism—and the ABC is a great example of this—are able to change their models accordingly and are able to offer quite different services as a result. I really think it is hard to predict in the long term sense—and, when I say 'long term', I mean longer than two years—what is going to happen with a lot of this convergence. But it is an irresistible force in terms of how technology will be consumed.

Ms Roche : The other thing, too, is that, in our submission, maybe we have taken a bit of poetic licence with the word 'convergence' because we see it much more broadly than the way in which it is currently used.

Mr SYMON: I think that is the point of my question.

Ms Roche : Yes. There are two other dimensions of convergence that we talked about. One is around the convergence of technology devices, which is incredibly powerful. You can just look at the smart phone as an example. Love it or hate it, the point is that you will have people out there who cannot afford a house, they will be paying minimum rent, they will not have a car to drive, but they will have an iPhone. They will have it because it is absolutely affordable. What is more, they can do everything on it. At the moment, there is a lot of entertainment stuff on it. But there are health and fitness things now, you can find a restaurant or a dentist, there are affirmations or whatever. That or something like it is going to become one of the key mechanisms for how people access services. It will be how, for example, government will deliver services, because that will be the one thing that people will have—there is no doubt about that. What is more, the iPhone has indicated that it is affordable because applications cost you a max of $13.99 or something and you can get them for $1.18 or $2.99. Everybody can afford that. Whether they can or cannot is disputed, but in their minds they can afford it. That is a really critical thing to understand in terms of devices and the technology and the convergence.

The other area of convergence that we think is quite powerful is the convergence of services. This opens up another whole debate about access to information, privacy and security. I am not doubting that these are issues. But, at the moment, we hardly have even horizontal convergence of service, let alone vertical and we are not there yet. But what you will notice about our submission is that we are actually trying to raise the bar here. We are actually trying saying, 'Let's stop thinking about what we are doing now; let's raise the bar and think about what is possible and then make it a stretch target to go and get it, because it is possible'. We see that this is actually a technology enabler so that you can actually deliver services vertically where the customer truly is at the centre. We say it all the time, but arguably they are really not there yet.

Mr SYMON: That is great to hear—thinking about what the use will be tomorrow rather than today. Too many people, I think, get caught into just what we have in front of this. As to your example about how far we have moved with iPhones, it is really only the last year and a bit.

Ms Roche : Yes.

CHAIR: Can I add to that what the demand will be tomorrow, not just the use. The generation growing up using those, even in retirement age, will have very different views on how they want to live their lives.

Mr SYMON: Where you were leading to in your reply was also e-government and what services are provided or could be provided. I still struggle with this. I know the committee has asked other witnesses similar questions about why governments do not use what they have already to full extent they can. Are they waiting for the general population to have ubiquity so they can do it for everyone? Everything you put here about still having to fill out forms even though you can access the information online rings true for every level of government. Would you be able to tell the committee what you think it is that needs to change for that to change? Is it attitude or infrastructure or something else?

Ms Roche : To me it is culture. Centrelink is a very good example of this. I am only using it as an example. When did the Social Security Act come into place—1947 I think it was. You have had 70 years of history of an organisation asking people to come in, stand in a queue, fill in a form, go home, bring in documentation—you've brought in the wrong stuff, go back, get more and come back in. After 70 years, getting people to change how they do something—and that is from the provider side as well as from the consumer side—is difficult. It is probably arguably one of the areas where we are putting the least amount of our efforts and it is where the most amount of our efforts should be going. We know that you cannot change behaviour overnight, but it is fundamentally what does need to change.

Mr Birks : I would add that the government has been a very good user of technology in many areas. There are some extremely good examples of great use of technology in government. What government has been not so good at is looking at the opportunity of technology to be transformative across government rather than within the silos of government. Particular agencies and silos of government have done great jobs with various uses of technology. But what we do not see a lot of in our industry—and we think it is a missed opportunity—is someone looking at an overarching level of how you can bring together technology opportunities for change across government agencies and take advantage of putting technologies together to create things like a single user experience for the citizen to government rather than multifaceted and very different user experiences to government, which tends to be the case today.

CHAIR: We are over time already and we could probably go on ad infinitum with your submission, because it really touches on a lot of the issues that we have had brought before us. We greatly appreciate the submission and your appearance today. It has been extremely useful to us. You will be sent a copy of the transcript of your evidence, to which you can make corrections of grammar and fact. The transcript will also guide you on any additional information that you may have undertaken to provide. It would be appreciated if you could forward any additional information to the secretary as soon as possible, as we are now commencing the process of formulating our report, obviously. I should indicate to you a small example of how progress can be slow. Yesterday I experienced an event in its place and discovered for the first time that you cannot Skype in Parliament House with the technology that we have. We certainly appreciate that there are varieties of progress. I am just putting that on the record because I found it very frustrating. Thank you once again. We really appreciate your time today.