Rise Up Australia will ensure that Australia has a communications infrastructure that serves the needs of a modern ‘first-world’ productive economy. Part of this is a well-maintained internet network.
Depending on geographical location, Australians have had access to a range of Internet access technologies, including dial-up, digital subscriber line (DSL), cable, fibre, fixed and mobile wireless, and satellite (1). Australia ranks in the top ten in the world for internet penetration (2)
1. National Broadband Network (NBN)
The NBN was first introduced by the federal Labor Government to give Australian homes, schools and businesses access with the goal of “faster, more reliable broadband” (3).
It was designed to replace our ageing copper telephone network and uses a mix of fibre optic cable technology (93% of Australian households) as well as next-generation fixed wireless and satellite technology (7% of households in remote and rural areas) (3)(4).
Rise Up Australia supports the NBN which replaces the copper network. This will give us the best internet service, and the speeds are far superior to fibre to the node. Fibre may initially be more costly, but it offers far greater reliability, lower operating costs, lower energy use and greater bandwidth. We do, however, believe that there needs to be clarity on some of the specifics of this plan that were promoted by the Rudd Government in political advertisements (4).
Although NBN Co will not charge for installing hardware, to access the NBN consumers need to sign up with an internet service provider (eg. Telstra, Optus, TPG) who may charge activation/set up fees and require a fixed-term contract to connect to the service.
Download speeds have the potential to be significantly faster but also depend on factors outside of the government’s control, such as computer quality, software, broadband plan specifications and the design of the internet service provider’s network.
As of July 2013, 70,000 homes and businesses were using the National Broadband Network (4). Rise Up Australia supports the on-going roll out of this plan provided it is well governed and maintained, including the safe removal of any asbestos from old infrastructure by professionally-trained subcontractors (5).
If higher download speeds can be achieved, some of the innovations touted by businesses include telehealth (video consults), remote learning, videoconferencing, interactive shopping and widespread access to subscription cable content (6). Such innovations will be beneficial to the economic competitiveness of our country.
2. Majority Australian-Owned Infrastructure
We support majority ownership of our communications infrastructure by Australian citizens or governments (local, state and federal).
Proposed sales to foreign investors of our communications infrastructure would be required to undergo a ‘national interest test’ by the Foreign Ownership Board weighing up the pros and cons for Australia with full transparency and accountability.
3. Online Child Exploitation
Significant achievements have been made by local, state and national authorities, particularly the Australian Federal Police (AFP), in working with other countries to track down pedophiles who operate across borders and use the internet for child exploitation.
Law enforcement authorities from 13 countries, including Australia, helped to uncover a cyber-based pedophile ring believed to be the world’s largest with 70,000 members including teachers, police officers and scout leaders (7).
Although much progress has been made in this area, the problem is enormous. Rise Up Australia is committed to strong support and adequate resourcing of these type of operations to prosecute online predators and rescue children at risk of abuse.
Rise Up Australia also supports strict laws for online grooming; producing, distributing and downloading child pornography and other forms of child exploitation via the internet.
In addition, we believe there is still a great deal of work to be done by parents, carers, schools and child abuse prevention agencies to educate children about online threats, such as cyberbullying and grooming by pedophiles, while still encouraging their positive enjoyment of technology (8).
(1) ‘How Australia Accesses and Uses the Internet’, Australian Bureau of Statistics, retrieved 23 August 2013, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/1301.0~2012~Main%20Features~How%20Australia%20accesses%20and%20uses%20the%20Internet~175
(2) ‘Top 50 Countries with Highest Internet Penetration Rate’, The Internet Coaching Library, retrieved 23 August 2013, http://www.internetworldstats.com/top25.htm
(3) National Broadband Network, retrieved 23 August 2013, http://www.nbn.gov.au/about-the-nbn/
(4) ‘Labor’s National Broadband Network ad oversimplifies its benefits’, ABC News, 23 August 2013, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-20/labor-nbn-ad-put-to-the-test/4896412
(5) ‘Subcontractors may sue over NBN asbestos shutdown’, The Australian, 13 August 2013, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/in-depth/subcontractors-may-sue-over-nbn-asbestos-shutdown/story-e6frgaif-1226695922642
(6) ‘The top 10 benefits of the NBN’, ninemsn, 18 July 2011, http://apcmag.com/life-in-the-nbns-world.htm
(7) ‘Massive online paedophile ring busted by cops,’ NBC News, retrieved 23 August 2013, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/42108748/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/massive-online-pedophile-ring-busted-cops/
(8) More information on online child protection strategies can be found at the AFP’s ‘Think You Know’ program, http://www.thinkuknow.org.au/