Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 November 1999



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 November 1999

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Parliamentary Record 20


Debates for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Tuesday 23 November 1999 multiple phone calls. The potential for this technology to make real efficiency gains to the commercial sector and the public sector is huge. However, there needs to be a whole-of-govemment approach for consistency across government to maximise the potential. Extending this communication technology into our rural communities is also part of the challenge and providing infrastructure and bandwidth into remote communities also needs attention. The regional telecommunications infrastructure fund, RTIF, is a Commonwealth initiative of $250m over three years for regional, rural and remote telecommunications throughout all states and territories. The fund was announced on 1 July 1997 from the first partial sale of Telstra. The Northern Territory has been allocated $ 16m and to date $ 14m has been allocated within the Northern Territory for all projects. These projects include feasibility studies for the provision of Internet in remote communities, training, and awareness-raising projects and infrastructure. I understand that RTIF goes some way to achieving this goal. However, the fund will not meet the full need. Given the governments outsourcing of its communications network to Optus, Im interested to hear what plans there are in place as part of Optus contract to extend comslinks to these communities which RTIF will not be able to reach. In closing, its good to see continued focus on the development of the Territorys IT industry. However, achieving the vision will require sound strategy and implementation plans which have consensus across the IT industry and the business community in general. Mr MANZIE (Asian Relations and Trade): Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to support the Foundation statement presented by my colleague the Deputy Chief Minister. The Northern Territory government is very vocal in its views on establishing the Territory as a service industry hub, particularly for our immediate region. Members will recall that I used earlier Foundation statements, in particular Build on a Successful Resource Based Economy and also Become the Supply and Service Distribution Centre fo r the Region to comment on the Northern Territorys potential to develop our service industries in relation to mining, oil, and gas. I take this opportunity to provide some examples across my portfolios of the steps local companies, with the assistance of government departments, are taking to ensure they play a role in our service industry growth. While I spend considerable time espousing the benefits of strengthening our mining, oil and gas supply and service capabilities, the service sectors I want to expand on today include information technology and telecommunication services, banking and financial services, and education and training services. Today, as I informed the House earlier, I had the great pleasure of witnessing the signing of the merger agreement between Northern Territorys Octa4 Code Media, the Internet service provider, and the US-based telecommunications company Bentleytel.com. It was quite an auspicious occasion. A local company now stands on the verge of seeming a market many Australian companies would dream of, and the Northern Tenitory certainly stands to benefit greatly from this achievement. It really is a coming of age for our information technology and communications sector. The partnership will create the Australian BIMP-EAGA information corridor, allowing Octa4 and its partners to service the communication and information technology needs of a very large segment of the region from Darwin itself. It clearly demonstrates that local companies are maturing and have the necessary capabilities to compete in world markets. Octa4s merger with Bentleytel.com builds on its recent acquisition of the Philippines 3G telecommunications service and also Malaysias Dynasem, which represents a significant development for all Territory businesses. This company becomes the first Territory-based company to be able to raise capital through a public float on the US NASDAQ Stock Exchange. That is certainly quite an achievement in a globally competitive environment, and is clear evidence of the opportunities emerging in the IT sector. Truly, it is an international playing field. It demonstrates to other local businesses that they can seek out investment funds and joint-venture partnerships around the world, and they too can tap into this growth sector. My Department of Asian Relations and Trade, through its very strong international links, has the potential to assist businesses in raising funds through foreign capital markets like the US. This merger not only brings together Australia, Malaysia, the Philippines and the United States, but it also opens up a world of opportunities for showcasing Territory business talent and know how. Developing that Australia BIMP-EAGA information corridor will highlight Octa4s capabilities, skills and expertise, and the Territorys IT industry stands to benefit by this activity.

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