Australia is a big country and it is undergoing some big changes.
The Illawarra region has been shouldering both the burden and opportunities of change for the last three decades.
We now live and work differently to how we did only 10 years ago.
Technological change has transformed our daily lives.
We’ve moved from rushing to the bank in our lunch breaks to getting our money from a machine in a wall.
We rarely use payphones; instead relying on the ease of mobile phones.
We check our letterboxes less than we check our (multiple) email inboxes.
The invention of the internet and its constant innovation will continue to transform our lives.
It’s one of the reasons why I’m so excited about the National Broadband Network (NBN), which is rolling out across the region.
It’s under-appreciated but the NBN roll-out across the Illawarra is the single largest regional roll-out of this high-speed fibre broadband in the country.
Last week the Illawarra Mercury published important details on just how the construction roll out is taking place across Wollongong, Fairy Meadow, Corrimal, Bulli, Woonona, Bellambi, Keiraville, and Dapto.
This is a massive investment in the region by the Commonwealth Labor Government.
All of the suburbs in the Illawarra will eventually be connected to this high-speed broadband.
The exception will be if Tony Abbott’s Liberals win the election on September 14.
Malcolm Turnbull, the Opposition’s communication spokesperson, has already made it clear that the NBN will be rolled back, instead of rolled-out.
This puts the Federal Liberals at odds with their local Council representatives, who are calling for the NBN to be rolled-out even faster.
The bottom line is if you want high-speed fibre broadband in your home, under Tony Abbott you’ll have to pay up to $3000 for the privilege.
Last week the Mercury highlighted how local business people and knowledge economy workers are now able to work from home because of the NBN roll-out.
The opportunities that exist for shortening Australia’s ‘‘tyranny of distance’’ are almost endless as we increasingly go on-line for business activity, tele-working and tele-commuting, and remote video conferencing.
Over the last few weeks the RDA Illawarra team has been funded by the Commonwealth Labor Government to hold discussions with local businesses and individuals who are showing enormous interest in the future of the NBN in the Illawarra.
As the former Chair of the Infrastructure and Communications Committee of the Parliament, I worked with my committee to publish a landmark report on the range of social and economic benefits that the NBN will provide Australians.
We’ll be able to conduct any kind of meeting in the comfort of our lounge rooms whether it’s with a university lecturer, business client, or doctors and specialists.
These innovations in the way we live and work will unlock the next generation of productivity and efficiencies.
It’ll help us save money, reduce costs, improve the environment and link all of us up more.
I’m really pleased that the people of the Illawarra ‘‘get’’ the NBN.
They increasingly understand how important a role this technology will play in the future of this region.
Sharon Bird is the Federal Member for Cunningham