BENDIGO residents may be able to access better legal advice when the National Broadband Network is connected, according to Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy.
Speaking in Bendigo this morning, Mr Conroy announced the next round of funding for a program supporting the online delivery of legal services to regional Australians.
He said the technology was already being used in some areas and was bridging the gap between regional and metro legal access.
“You’ll be able to link up between different legal experts to get the best possible legal advice, which you wouldn’t have necessarily gotten before,” he said.
“Living in the regions and the bush shouldn’t be a barrier to quality legal advice.”
He encouraged local legal centres to apply for the funding.
Mr Conroy will soon visit a local manufacturing firm that is struggling with the broadband connections currently available to learn how that firm can be transformed by the NBN when it arrives in Bendigo.
The Minister will also meet with representatives of NBN4 Bendigo and address the Bendigo Business Council to talk about the NBN roll-out to Bendigo, with 29,000 properties in the city set to receive access to the network by 2015.
Working group NBN4Bendigo said local industries were trying to position themselves to make the most of high-speed internet.
Group chair Bruce Winzar said he was extremely happy with the way the NBN roll-out was progressing.
But he said the plans for fibre connections to Bendigo had left out a number of areas, including Epsom and Eaglehawk.
“There is very vocal support to get those communities connected,” he said.
“We’re abdicating on their behalf.
“We’re also lobbying for Echuca, Swan Hill, Mildura and Kerang. It could well be that they are announced on the second or third wave of the roll-out.”
Mr Winzar said there were key economic benefits businesses involved with the NBN.
He said Bendigo could be among the leaders of the new broadband-based digital economy.
“It’s certainly our aim and our vision to take steps toward making our region an intelligent community,” he said.
Regional Development Australia committee chair for Loddon Mallee, Jenny Dawson, said broadband was a high priority project for the region, both in economic and social opportunities.
“It’s really important for our region,” she said. “It is exciting to think what it means for our agricultural economy.
“There’re health benefits and education benefits to the small community.”