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CSU's IT conference shows regional unis' strength.



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Peter Andren MP - Independent Member for Calare

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26 November 2002

CSU’s IT Conference Shows Regional Unis’ Strength The international Information Technology conference at CSU’s Bathurst campus is a great example of the expertise and innovative ideas that are the strength of our regional universities, according to Peter Andren, Member for Calare.

Mr Andren opened the conference today at the invitation of the Dr David Tien of CSU’s School of Information Technology, and the conference organising committee, and told 150 international and local delegates his staff were amused that he was to address an IT conference.

“Until recently my expertise in IT was limited to the saving of files in places unknown so that my more IT-literate staff had to trawl the reaches of cyberspace to retrieve them but I have now mastered the skill of saving files in folders and emailing attachments,” Mr Andren said.

“Keynote speaker, Prof. Trevor Cole said Australia has a proud record of coming up with new ideas but we need to work on putting them into practice right here rather than letting them slip overseas.

“He also said one of the biggest problems for innovations in IT in this country is our convoluted communications network - a complex mix of systems that could and should be simplified.

Mr Andren told the conference that society faces serious questions of equity, with a widening digital divide both between and within nations where access to IT and network resources vary more and more widely.

“Here on the ground in the Central West we have a nice little irony … you can access the world from inside your home but in rural and remote areas you are still ultimately bound by geography and it’s accompanying quality of infrastructure and cost of access to decent network.

“While Government is strongly encouraging small business and people who live in rural areas to use IT for business and education, some in this electorate have internet speeds of 12 kilobits per second.

“But they’d also have us sell-off our telco citing its service level is ‘up to scratch in the bush’, even though the recent Estens inquiry into the sale of Telstra maintains that a dial-up internet speed of 19.2 kbps is an acceptable benchmark.

“So while we have the information revolution changing the way we live our lives, many people living west of the ‘sandstone curtain’ can’t even download a webpage before the line drops out.

“It is for that reason I am so passionate about the need to maintain public control of the only organisation capable of providing the hardware and access to this uniquely populated country.

“The capacity for Australia to compete internationally is highly dependent on effective linkages between public and private sector research,” Mr Andren said.

“Professor Cole showed how far advanced are countries like Finland, England and Scotland in developing technology clusters to create and export new IT products.

“We have the talent here and institutions like our universities to nurture world class innovation but we still need a forward looking Government framework to enable this to happen,” he added.

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