SENATOR THE HON STEVEN CONROY
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP
Member for Lingiari
Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Services Delivery
DAMIAN HALE MP
Member for Solomon
19 August 2010
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today said residents in remote and regional Australia stand to benefit most from the medical benefits delivered by the National Broadband Network (NBN).
Darwin will be one of the first cities to receive the NBN under a re-elected Gillard Labor Government.
Senator Conroy joined Minister Warren Snowdon and Member for Solomon, Damian Hale at the National Critical Care and Trauma Centre at Royal Darwin Hospital, to see a live demonstration of new telehealth applications.
This technology allows patients in remote areas to consult with specialist doctors in major centres via a remote video conference facility.
The technology was funded under the Health-E Towns project, which is co-funded by the Northern Territory and Federal Governments.
“Existing telehealth and other e-health applications will receive a huge boost from two major initiatives announced by the Gillard Labor Government – the rollout of the NBN and the announcement of a $392 million investment in Medicare rebates for online consultations,” Stephen Conroy said.
“Maps released by NBN Co show that Darwin, Palmerston, Robertson Barracks, the Darwin rural area, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine, Tindal and Nhulunbuy, in the Northern Territory are set to be connected to the fibre optic network, with speeds up to 1 gigabit per second,” Damian Hale said.
“All other communities in the Northern Territory will receive next generation wireless and satellite connections, delivering speeds faster than most urban users receive today,” he said.
“The NBN will ensure that medical applications like telehealth, as well as many other benefits of high speed broadband, will become standard across regional Australia,” Warren Snowdon said.
Today’s demonstration of telehealth follows the release of a new report by Access Economics which found one of the reasons telehealth in Australia has been held back is the lack of high-speed broadband, particularly in rural and regional areas. The report estimates the benefits of telehealth to Australia could be between $2 billion and $4 billion a year.
“In the future, the NBN will allow access to enhanced health care delivery and give local businesses the opportunity to expand and reach new markets anywhere in the world. It will also ensure that every child in the Territory can have access to world class education resources,” Stephen Conroy said.
“This infrastructure will literally transform the way people live and work.”
Damian Hale said people in Darwin and Palmerston have put up with expensive, patchy broadband services for years, but the NBN will put an end to that once and for all. He noted that parts of Darwin have been identified as an NBN ‘second release site,’ with fibre construction commencing next year.
“Residents and businesses do not have adequate broadband and telecommunications services due to a lack of competitive infrastructure. In order for our region to continue to grow and prosper, we need the infrastructure for the task and the Northern Territory can’t afford not to have it,” said Damian Hale.
“Tony Abbott has made clear he will shut down the NBN if he becomes Prime Minister. He needs to explain to local residents why they don’t deserve to have access to this essential infrastructure..
“Under a Gillard Labor Government, every home, business, school and hospital will have access to world class broadband.
“Under Tony Abbott’s plan, we’ll be left with a patchwork of second class technology that will leave us falling behind countries like Singapore, Korea and Japan.
“Mr Abbott doesn’t have the judgement to realise how important these services are for Territorians.”
“Local residents have a clear choice at this election – to support the Gillard Labor Government and get access to the NBN, or vote for Tony Abbott and miss out”, Warren Snowdon said.
The rollout of the NBN is progressing well, with the first customers already online in Tasmania. Twenty-four communities on the mainland have been earmarked as the next areas for the rollout and regional backbone links are also being laid.
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