Central Victorian businesses are relying on the National Broadband Network to compete with the rest of Australia and the world, according to Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy.
In Bendigo yesterday, Senator Conroy said the “digital divide” was a major challenge for regional cities but the broadband roll-out presented great opportunities for growth.
He said industries in Bendigo were well placed to capitalise on the NBN.
“Bendigo is a centre of innovation,” he said. “People are already grabbing the opportunities to adapt to the online future. This will unleash the potential of every business in Bendigo.”
On a tour of manufacturer Industrial Conveyancing, Senator Conroy said the Bendigo business was one of many being hampered by slow internet speeds.
He said education providers, the health industry, agriculture and a whole range of industries would be transformed by the NBN.
“Cities like Bendigo want to grow – people want their kids to have the best education opportunities,” he said. “To be able to have that choice we need the best opportunities in the world. We need to act to ensure we’re best placed to respond to these challenges to do things better and to do things we haven’t even thought of yet.”
Senator Conroy said he was confident the roll-out – which is set to be delivered to 29,000 properties in Bendigo by 2015 – was on track.
He said fibre construction would be underway in Bendigo within 12 months, while areas around the CBD that weren’t included in the initial stage, would follow in coming years.
“I’ve already heard from a few people in Eaglehawk. Don’t panic, everyone’s going to get it.”
With Prime Minister Julia Gillard setting a date for an election yesterday, Senator Conroy said there would be uncertainty with the project’s future if the Labor government lost power.
Working group NBN4Bendigo chair Bruce Winzar said with developments such as the New Bendigo Hospital, the time was right for Bendigo to be transformed into the digital future.
“We’re still campaigning for the rest of the Loddon Mallee region to have the NBN rolled out as soon as possible,” he said. “We want to be on the digital forefront.”