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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 12920

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP SPEECH AT THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE NATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS FUNDROYAL PERTH HOSPITAL, PERTH

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 18/07/2002

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 12920

E&OE...........

Thank you very much Chief Executive, to Clive Brown representing the Premier of Western Australia, members of the hospital staff and members of the community here in Perth, ladies and gentlemen.
I fly often to Perth and it';s always a reminder of the distance you need to travel to get from different points of this country to others. And that is the context and the backdrop of the announcement that I make this morning. It is a big country, we all know that and we believe as Australians that the 37 per cent of our population who choose to live outside the big cities have the same right to services and facilities as those who choose to live in cities such as Sydney or Perth.
So, they are entitled to new technology in communications and ways of overcoming isolation. And today is an occasion to announce a new chapter in our assault on the disadvantages of people in areas such as medical and educational services for people who live in the remoter parts of our country.
I';m announcing today out of the National Communications Fund an allocation of $50 million for investment in large scale telecommunications projects that will deliver practical health and educational outcomes and benefits to rural and regional Australia. This allocation of $50 million which will be shared on a fair proportionate basis amongst all states and the Northern Territory is part of $163 million that the Government committed to address areas of need in telecommunication services in regional Australia following the Besley report, formerly called the Telecommunications Service Inquiry.
I announce today eight projects that will be funded from the National telecommunications Fund. They cover as I said all states and the Northern Territory and each of them I';m pleased to say is a partnership typically involving the Federal Government and matching resources from state governments, local governments, universities and non-government organisations. And in that context on top of the $50 from the Commonwealth, the project partners including the governments and other bodies I';ve mentioned have committed a further $60 million in financial and in-kind contributions.
Network Western Australia receives $8 million out of the $50 million Commonwealth allocation and that is to be matched dollar for dollar by the project partners here in Western Australia. And they are the Departments of Industry and Technology, Education, Health, Training and the university sector. Network Western Australia will see the upgrading of telecommunications infrastructure and improved bandwidth at health and education facilities in remote parts of the state allowing real improvements in services for people living in those areas. Areas to benefit will be selected from across all nine state development regions: the Gascoyne, Goldfields-Esperance, Great Southern, Kimberley, Midwest, Peel, Pilbara, South West and the Wheatbelt.
For example we use technology that allows someone living thousands of kilometres from Perth to see a city medical specialist using video conferencing and we see a diagnosis with neither person leaving their office or their town. Technology also that allows School of the Air students or children in remote indigenous communities to access new education and health services. Technology that gives professional people living and working in remote areas access to new training and professional development opportunities. And there';ll also be flow on benefits to local communities and to local businesses.
Ladies and gentleman I';m particularly pleased to be at this magnificent Royal Perth Hospital which is the great teaching hospital of Western Australia and has an enviable reputation as a teaching hospital and as an environment that has cared for people for decades, an enviable reputation all around Australia. And I want to thank the Perth hospital for allowing me and allowing the representatives of the Western Australian Government the use of this auditorium to launch this commitment of Commonwealth and state resources to addressing the disadvantages of people who live in remoter parts of Australia.
We want people who live in remote parts of Australia to enjoy to the maximum extent they can the lifestyle they now have. There are advantages in not living in big cities, I think we';re all aware of that. As somebody who';s lived a large part of his life in Sydney, it';s a fantastic city, but there are some disadvantages in living in big cities and there are a lot of advantages in living in remoter communities. But there are also additional costs and additional burdens and disadvantages and one of them of course is when somebody gets ill or when you have to educate a member of your family and you can';t afford or have no desire for obvious family and personal reasons to send them away from where you';re living. And anything that we can do as a government, federally or at a state level, to demolish the disadvantages of distance we ought to do. And that is what this allocation by the Federal Government of $50 million, matched by state governments and other bodies is designed to do and I think it';s a first class initiative and a practical way to help people who live in remote parts of Australia to access the sort of facilities that we who live in the larger cities take for granted. And I know there';s going to be a little demonstration of some of the capacities that will flow from this fund. But again thank you very much to the Royal Perth Hospital for allowing us to use your facilities. Congratulations for the contribution that you and the members of your dedicated staff make to the health needs of the city of Perth and to the broader Western Australian community and I';m particularly pleased to be here today and to be involved in this joint project which is of such great importance to demolishing what Geoffrey Blainey so famously and evocatively called the tyranny of distance. Thank you.
[ends]

Transcript 12920