Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Building for Australia's future: the National Broadband Network and the Digital Economy [I want my NBN]

Download PDFDownload PDF



The Australian economy is strong and resilient.

To stay that way, the Rudd Labor Government is investing in the infrastructure needed for the 21st century.

We are building the National Broadband Network to connect every home and business to superfast, affordable and reliable broadband.

We are not only investing to meet our broadband needs now but for decades to come. No one today questions whether Medicare or superannuation is a good thing.

They were however universal, game-changing reforms that are now accepted parts of the fabric of Australian society. And they are Labor reforms.

They were not easy things to do, they were not uncontroversial at the time. But they were important, and it took Federal Labor Governments to do them.

The 2013 Federal Election is a referendum on broadband - a choice between Federal Labor’s investment in Australia’s future or the Coalition’s attachment to the technology of the past.

It is a referendum on communications infrastructure - a choice between the fibre technology of the 21st century versus last century’s copper wire.

It is a referendum on our economic future - Australia taking its place as an international leader in the digital economy, or condemning our businesses to the technology of another age.

High speed broadband is transforming mining, agriculture, manufacturing, as well as financial services, retailing, education, health and entertainment.

There is no pillar of our economy that doesn’t need superfast broadband.

Building Australia’s Future: the National Broadband Network and the Digital Economy

4 4

Australia is well placed to take full advantage of the next phase of ICT-related productivity benefits. Yet we can only do this if we invest in a broadband network.

In 2012, IBIS World found that enhancements in information technology through high-speed universal broadband can return Australia to long-term average productivity growth by 2020.

Copper can never achieve this. It is incapable of supporting a more productive Australia. Our international competitors are abandoning copper. Without broadband, Australian businesses will be unable to compete.

The OECD has identified that high-speed communications infrastructure investment enables innovation in the economy, as occurred when we invested in the electricity wires and roads and railway tracks of the past.

The OECD report identified Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) as the most-forward looking network possible with potential major social and economic spill-over benefits in electricity, health, transportation and education.


Gary Banks, Chairman of the Productivity Commission, 2002

“Microeconomic reforms encouraged and assisted the uptake of ICTs and the transformation of industries in ways that tap new productivity potential… In looking to the future, further productivity gains are possible from continued ICT uptake and business transformation, and Australia is well placed to benefit from e-commerce. ”


6 6


Australia’s geography provides an enormous advantage in this Asian Century.

No longer do we simply measure our competitiveness against North America and Europe.

The major economies in our region: China, Korea, Japan, Singapore - even New Zealand - are investing in fibre to the home and business. Being competitive in our region matters to Australia.

New Zealand is abandoning its fibre to the node plan in favour of fibre to the premises on the basis of studies by the New Zealand Institute.

Those studies found that establishing a world-class communications infrastructure via superfast broadband is a critical enabler to compete in global markets, providing countries with a ‘weightless economy’ that can partially overcome the scale and geographic disadvantages that they face.

7 7

• Ensure a safe and secure online environment.

Develop and maintain a strong ICT skills base.

Create a supportive environment for digital industries.

Foster a willingness to harness the benefits of cloud computing.


Superfast broadband extends the capacity of the internet to give our businesses an economic edge.

The internet and broadband allow us to improve the quality of our goods and services leading to higher productivity. A good example is the Sense-T project in Tasmania which allows real-time data to be collected about the conditions in which food is produced, processed, transported, stored and sold. This gives producers a competitive advantage and shoppers a clear picture about the food they are putting in their trolley.

But building the broadband infrastructure alone isn’t enough.

In 2011, the Rudd Labor Government released a National Digital Economy Strategy describing the pathway for Australia to be a leading digital economy by 2020.

This year the Federal Government released an update: Advancing Australia as a Digital Economy. It confirms the need for Australia to:

The direct contribution of the internet to the Australian economy was approximately $50 billion a year, projected to grow to over $70 billion a year by 2016.

Deloitte Access Economics, 2011

Cloud computing over the NBN would increase the size of the Australian economy by $3.32 billion a year after ten years.

KPMG, 2012

8 8


The NBN is a game changer for Australian businesses.

Research by Deloitte Access Economics shows that small businesses making full use of the internet with high digital engagement enjoy better business outcomes. It found that:

• They are twice as likely to be growing revenue and earn double the revenue per employee than those with low engagement.

They are job creators and are four times more likely to be hiring than those with low engagement.

They are three times more likely to be increasing investment in digital technology over the next year.

The NBN is the biggest investment in small business infrastructure this nation has ever seen.

Many of Australia’s 3.2 million small businesses operate from home offices. The NBN will open up new opportunities to grow their business, save costs and enter new markets domestically and across the globe.

Labor’s fibre-to-the-home = fibre-to-the-business.

Small business stands to gain the most from the development of cloud computing and high definition video conferencing. Both of these require high upload and download speeds. Importantly, they require the stable and reliable connection that only fibre can provide.

9 9

NBN - it’s a new utility

In many ways, building the NBN is no different to the creation of a national electricity network more than a century ago. Centralising electricity generation brought efficiencies and meant that businesses could sign up and only pay for what they used. It wasn’t long before electricity became a standard household utility.

This evolution transformed the industrial sector. It also opened the door to whole new industries.

ICT is undergoing a similar evolution. Today ICT can be consumed as a service over the internet. Data centres provide storage and processing capacity where and when it is required, just as power stations provide electricity on demand.

The NBN is like the power grid.

No-one asks today whether our home or business have sufficient electricity for the devices we all enjoy.

10 10


With NBN fibre to the business there will be no ‘hoping’ that there is the bandwidth and reliability to run new cloud applications. Businesses will be able to operate with confidence, without giving their bandwidth a second thought.

To support the use of cloud computing the Federal Government released the National Cloud Computing Strategy in June, showing how Australians can make maximum use of this technology.

Ten peak industry bodies have received assistance to develop Digital Business Kits to help small businesses to take full advantage of the cloud technology Digital Economy.

11 11


Australia’s mining and agriculture industries have always led the way in research and development.

Applications of superfast broadband for agriculture, mining and manufacturing are already being developed by the CSIRO and its partners.

Manufacturing has particularly embraced the digital age. The traditional foundry of 100 years ago is more likely today to be a shop-floor of laptops and designers. The future of manufacturing is being transformed by additive manufacturing - sometimes called 3D printing. High-speed broadband allows manufacturers to send dense files instantly to clients around the world. It also allows them to talk to clients in real-time, explaining the process, refining as they go, reaching the production point quicker. The CSIRO Future Manufacturing Flagship is spearheading initiatives to facilitate developments in Australian manufacturing.

The CSIRO is also developing tele-assistance for the mining sector. CSIRO (ICT) is working with the Minerals Down Under Flagship and the mining industry to develop ReMoTe (Remote Mobile Tele-assistance) technology which connects remote experts with on site operators to provide real-time assistance when problems arise. This allows field technicians to get expert support in the field. The ReMoTe camera mounted on helmet and a near-eye display is hands-free and wearable. Technicians can operate it without training.

The CSIRO has also established smart farming initiatives to show farmers and producers how high-speed broadband can transform their everyday working lives and boost productivity.

12 12


The service sector is the largest part of the Australian economy and is particularly well-placed to benefit from the universal availability of high speed broadband.

The Rudd Labor Government believes that healthcare does not only happen in a hospital, and aged care need not only be provided in a nursing home.

Taking NBN fibre all the way to the home will be a critical foundation for a sustainable health and aged-care system. It will allow elderly Australians to live better and for longer in their own homes with fewer hospital admissions and reduced pressure on health budgets.

Taking the NBN to every home, hospital and clinic will mean that:

• Families can consult with a medical specialist from their home or GP clinic, without having to travel into the city.

• Regional Australians can enjoy the same quality of medical services as people in the city, at an affordable price.

• Chronic illnesses like type-2 diabetes can be managed through regular in-home monitoring by nurses or GPs via high-quality video - reducing hospital admissions, and improving patients’ well-being.

• Older Australians will be able to live at home thanks to in-home technology that enables nurses, doctors and family members to provide daily, timely and immediate care as needed.

By 2050 the proportion of Australians over 65 years of age is projected to increase to around 22.6% of the population. By 2050, real health spending on those aged over 65 years is expected to increase seven-fold, and for those aged over 85 years, 12-fold.

The NBN is being used today to deliver better health care in innovative new ways.

13 13

NBN applied in health and ageing services

• The Royal District Nursing Service is using NBN-enabled in-home monitoring and videoconferencing in Brunswick (Melbourne) to allow nurses to support chronically ill and elderly patients and reduce the frequency of district nurse home visits.

• Aged-care provider Feros Care is helping seniors in Coffs Harbour to stay in their homes longer through daily monitoring of their well-being, and regular video links with nurses via the NBN. Feros predicts that if half of all consultations were done via the NBN, each nurse could - every year - save 7,700kms in travel, 161 hours of travel time, and almost double the number of clients they can see.

• CSIRO will deliver tele-eye care over the NBN interim satellite service, allowing specialists in metropolitan hospitals to identify eye diseases in Indigenous communities in remote WA and the Torres Strait Islands using videoconferencing and medical imaging.

14 14

A clever country needs a world-class education system that offers first-rate learning opportunities for every student, no matter where they live.

The NBN connected to every home and school will mean:

• Students can study specialised subjects where a shortage of teachers makes it difficult for schools to offer them.

• Students will be able to interact in real-time with children overseas providing connections and opportunities for their future work lives.

• New opportunities in Vocational Education and Training including the ability to be assessed on the job rather than in a classroom via videoconferencing.

• No matter where they live, young Australians everywhere can take part in real- time artistic experiences offered by major arts institutions such as the Sydney Opera House and the Bell Shakespeare company. They can also take

live virtual tours of our museums and galleries.

• University and high school students can get access to the very best course material and lectures anywhere in the world - whether it’s the University of Queensland or Harvard or Oxford.

• The creativity of our students can be unleashed, allowing them to make and share projects with rich content like videos, music, and high-quality photos with classmates and teachers.

Australians will be able to attend courses or professional development training not offered in their local area to improve their job opportunities and career advancement.

15 15

The NBN is already demonstrating new ways of teaching and learning.

• John Monash School of Sciences at Monash University is delivering virtual science classes to lift student participation rates in the emerging sciences and provide a more interactive experience. In the first half of 2013, year 10 students in Canberra, Willunga and parts of regional Tasmania took part in astrophysics classes.

• The Sydney Opera House has used the NBN to conduct virtual performing arts workshops led by companies such as Bell Shakespeare and The Australian Ballet with students at Willunga High School, SA.

• Students and young musicians are taking virtual auditions and master-classes with the Australian Youth Orchestra.

• The University of New England is developing cross cultural exchanges between schools in regional NSW and partnering schools in Korea using high-definition videoconferencing.

• New migrants are participating in high quality English language tuition through virtual classes, run by the Department of Immigration. It offers greater flexibility for clients and helps them to settle successfully in Australia.

16 16


Superfast broadband is changing the way we work.

Broadband, cloud computing and videoconferencing opens the way for Australians in all kinds of occupations to consider teleworking.

Not only can teleworking boost workforce participation which is crucial to long-term economic growth, it also supports Australians nearing retirement to stay in the workforce for up to six years longer.

It also opens up job opportunities for parents, carers, people with a disability and regional Australians for whom leaving the home for a traditional office each day has not been possible.

These participation impacts from NBN-enabled telework are expected to grow annual GDP by $3.2 billion by 2021, and create the equivalent of 25,000 full-time jobs. A total of 10,000 of these jobs will be in regional Australia.

Access Economics has found that telework could:

• Represent a five per cent

reduction in peak-hour traffic.

• Save 120 million litres of fuel,

• Avoid 320,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Reduce congestion costs by $470 million per annum.

10% of Australian employees were to telework 50% of the time, total annual productivity gains would be in the order of $1.4 billion to $1.9 billion per year by reducing commute times, office space and staff turnover.

Access Economics, 2010

If just 10 per cent of workers teleworked half the time in Sydney, around 20 million travel hours a year could be saved.

Deloitte Access Economics, 2012

17 17


The NBN is an investment. It is not spending. Australians will get their money back with interest (7.1%).

Critically the NBN is being built with future demand in mind.

Between 2008 and 2012, annual downloads increased seven times to reach more than 421,000 terabytes.

The extraordinary rate of digital development means these trends will continue.

The OECD estimates the 10 internet devices in an average home in 2012 will have jumped to 25 in 2017, and 50 by 2022.

Cisco estimates that by 2016 the data equivalent of all movies ever made will be crossing global networks every three minutes.

What we can be certain of is that the growth in digital technologies will be phenomenal; the momentum is unprecedented, and that the time to invest in our broadband infrastructure is now.

18 18


Federal Labor is building for the future, investing in superfast broadband that will last for generations.

The Coalition is building a network that will be obsolete by the time it is finished, relying on last century copper.

The Coalition proposes to invest $29.5 billion compared to Labor’s $30.4 billion. They propose to borrow just 3% less to build a network that will only guarantee a download speed of 25 Mbps versus 1000 Mbps available over fibre.

The Coalition plan does not mention uploads once, showing they don’t understand the need for interactive applications in the digital economy.

Federal Labor is committed to fairness in delivering broadband; everyone in Australia will pay the same wholesale price for the same service. Under the Coalition, people in the bush will pay more than people in the cities.

Under Federal Labor, there is no charge for the initial connection to fibre. Under the Coalition, you will pay up to $5,000 to be connected to fibre.

Labor Coalition

broadband of the 21st century—optic fibre last century’s copper

connection to fibre is free of charge connection to fibre will cost up to $5,000

download speeds up to 1,000 megabits, more in the future

download speeds between 25 and 50 megabits.

nation building—meeting Australia’s needs now and into the future network that will be obsolete by the time it is built.

funded by $30.4 billion in government borrowings

funded by $29.5 billion in government borrowings


Authorised by G. Wright, Australian Labor, 5/9 Sydney Avenue, Barton ACT.