House debates

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Questions without Notice


2:50 pm

Photo of Greg CombetGreg Combet (Charlton, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change, Industry and Innovation) Share this | Hansard source

I thank the member for McEwen for his question, because it is an important one. The rollout of the Broadband Network is so important to the future of our economy and will underpin massive investment and prosperity for years to come. We have had strong economic performance. We have had strong GDP growth, notwithstanding the difficult international environment in which we have found ourselves over the last five years. We have had almost one million jobs created since Labor was elected to government, interest rates are down—

Mr Hockey interjecting

The member for North Sydney hasn't quite noticed it. Inflation is under control, investment is strong, unemployment is at 5½ per cent, productivity has been improving. But there are, of course, pressures on the economy, particularly in the international context. We have had a strong value of the Australian dollar and there are structural adjustment pressures. In any circumstance, any government discharging its proper responsibility has got to be looking at the reforms and the investments that are going to continue to improve productivity and drive competitiveness in our economy. That is exactly what this government has been doing, and the rolling out of the Broadband Network is absolutely fundamental to our economic strategy, because it will lead a revolution in productivity. It will lead a revolution in service delivery in areas like health and education in my own region in the Hunter. It is going to be able to create the opportunity for people to access healthcare services they otherwise would have to commute to Sydney to achieve. That is already starting to occur. For those reasons it is also going to lead investments in regional areas throughout our country that will be massively important for the creation of jobs in those areas.

We are looking to strongly support innovation in our economy by investing in the National Broadband Network. We have also announced our $1 billion plan for Australian jobs, which includes the development of innovation precincts in our economy. The guidelines for the innovation precincts have been out for some time. Literally thousands of submissions have been put in by collaborations of the business community in particular industries and particular regions with universities and other research organisations like the CSIRO. There has been an overwhelming response to this policy initiative and it has a very strong digital economy focus. This will underpin massive investments for years to come. It is equivalent as a reform to rolling out the railways, the electricity system and telephony in decades gone by. But it is all at risk from the coalition's backward looking policy to rely upon decades old copper networks that are going to place a constraint and a serious brake on our future economy growth. (Time expired)


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