Launch of Parliamentary Friends of the Internet

During the last sitting period the cross-party Parliamentary Friends of the Internet was launched. Terri is a co-convener, along with Jane Prentice MP (LNP) and Senator Scott Ludlam (Greens). One of the guest speakers at, and driving forces behind, the launch was Laurie Patton, CEO of Internet Australia. Laurie's speech follows.

PARLIAMENTARY FRIENDS OF THE INTERNET LAUNCH – LAURIE PATTON, INTERNET AUSTRALIA

Internet Australia is the peak body representing Internet users. We are a broad member-based not-for-profit – we’re not an industry lobby group.

Our mission – “Helping Shape Our Internet Future” – is to promote access to the Internet for the benefit of the whole community; including business, educational, government and private Internet users.

Our members hold a range of views about the way in which Australia can best benefit from the Internet, however we all believe in the fundamentally positive role that the Internet is playing and the need for an open, accessible and trustworthy Internet.

In 1982 an American, John Naisbitt, coined the term “megatrend”; significant changes that reshape the landscape for government, business and society over the ensuing 20 years or so.

The CSIRO has identified seven megatrends affecting Australia.

These include such things as natural resource scarcity, pressures on biodiversity and the global climate, an ageing population and escalating healthcare costs.

The seventh megatrend identified by the CSIRO is what it calls “the innovation imperative”.

Australia invented Wi-Fi, the heart pacemaker, the bionic ear, the black box flight recorder and more.

So there’s no reason why we should not be world leaders in the next, Internet-driven, industrial era.

Internet Australia has called on the Government and the Opposition to support a national forum to bring people together to find an agreed path towards Australia’s digital future.

Our proposal is for a bipartisan Digital Future Forum where industry leaders, trade unions, academics and politicians concede that we have much more to agree about than we have to argue over when it comes to our future economic prosperity.

We need to create an environment where smart people with smart ideas can flourish.

An environment where failure is not the end of the road; where determination to succeed is recognised and applauded; and where funding is available at all stages of the innovation curve.

We need to put in place the necessary taxation and related policies that match those in the countries currently expropriating our innovators and we need fast ubiquitous broadband so we have the infrastructure to compete in a digitally enabled global economy.

We also need to create a workforce with the skills to support new innovative industries.

The Intergenerational Report tells us we need people to work well beyond 65 years of age. On the other hand, our “millennials” will soon leave school or university expecting to be employed. Where will we find new jobs except through digital innovation?

One of the most exciting areas of Internet driven innovation will be products and services based around the so-called Internet of Things.

This is an area where Australia can excel. Whether we’re talking about devices to make like easier around the home or applications for industry and agriculture.

In years to come who knows where the use of sensors connected to the Internet will take us.

But just a cautionary note here. Before we hand the keys to our personal kingdoms to the machines, we need to think about the security and the privacy implications of all these newfangled IoT products and services.

At Internet Australia, we believe that trust is at the heart of maintaining an open and accessible Internet. So any laws that affect the public's confidence in the Internet need to be carefully drafted and continuously reviewed.

We also need to be aware of the risks of unintended consequences that affect the way the Internet functions – either by simply slowing it down or potentially, and more seriously, causing it to intermittently fail.

Parliamentary Friends of the Internet is a platform for providing an exchange of information and advice so that our legislators fully understand the immense value that the Internet has to offer on the one hand – and the consequences of the legislation they pass that affects the Internet on the other hand.

Internet Australia has called on the Government and the Opposition to support a national forum designed to bring people together to find an agreed path towards Australia’s digital future.

Our proposal is for a bipartisan Digital Future Forum where industry leaders, trade unions, academics and politicians put aside their competitive tensions and concede that we have much more to agree about than we have to argue over when it comes to our future economic prosperity.

 is pleased to have played a leading role in the establishment of this group and we thank the co-convenors for agreeing to make it happen. Jane Prentice, Terri Butler and Scott Ludlam.

Internet Australia is also delighted to support 2016 the National Year of Digital Inclusion; a project being sponsored by Infoxchange and Australia Post.

The ability to participate in our digitally enabled future is a basic right of all Australians. We believe in the need to build our economic and social future around a connected world where everyone has access to the Internet and knows how to use it.

In the future, transacting with government and many non-government agencies will be very difficult without access to the Internet. Gaining employment and engaging in a wide range of community activities will increasingly require digital skills.

The global Internet Society, of which Internet Australia is the local chapter, promotes the idea that the Internet is for everyone.

And that goes for all Australians, no matter where they live.

The Internet is vital to creating 21st Century jobs, developing new businesses, linking regional and remote communities and finding new ways for delivering health and education services.

So let’s endeavour to use the Internet to help create a better society not just to exploit new economic opportunities.

Thank you.

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