Ms Nerida O'Loughlin
Deputy Secretary
Department of Communications

24 October 2014

Thank you, Mr Chairman, Secretary‑General, Secretary General Elect, Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen.

It is an honour to address this conference today on behalf of the Australian Government.

Let me begin by congratulating you Mr Zhao, not just for your election, but for the overwhelming support and confidence evident in the result. Mr Zhao, you have our firm support and our continuing friendship as you take on this new role and new responsibilities.

I would also express Australia's best wishes to Dr Toure and our sincere thanks for your leadership over the last eight years as Secretary General of this Union.

I join previous speakers in congratulating you, Mr Chairman, on your election to chair this Conference. On behalf of the Australian delegation, I also thank the ITU and our hosts the Republic of Korea and the beautiful city of Busan for the excellent arrangements made for this Conference. We have every confidence in its success, particularly with your able leadership Mr Chairman.

Mr Chairman, in looking towards the future of communication technologies in 2020 and beyond, Australia sees endless opportunities ahead.

The four goals proposed for adoption in the ITU Strategic Plan all aim to fully realise these opportunities, and to meet associated challenges head-on.

We in this room, we who are part of this important union fully recognise that communication technologies are an enabler of worldwide social and economic development.

Australia is prepared to take full advantage of the opportunities before us, and to make a strong contribution to the global achievement of the shared vision of the ITU.

Australia is pushing forward with the rollout of its high speed National Broadband Network. We plan to use a mix of technologies to deliver the NBN as quickly as possible, using the best fit solution for the many diverse regions of our country.

By the time the rollout is complete, every home, business and community across Australia will have access to high speed broadband – closing the digital divide and enabling all Australians to fully participate in the digital future.

The Australian Government is also determined to improve mobile telecommunications across the country in places where terrain or distance are particularly challenging. It has allocated $AUD 100 million for this purpose and will soon be seeking private sector proposals to deliver on its commitment.

Australia successfully completed the switchover from analog to digital television in December 2013. This will allow the release of digital dividend spectrum from 1 January next year to telecommunications providers while still allowing for future innovation in the broadcasting sector.

The use of communications technologies in all sectors of the economy to improve productivity and stimulate growth is a strong focus of the Australian government.

Just last week, the Australian Government released the Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda. Communication technologies will be critical in realising this agenda, enabling growth and innovation in a range of sectors.

Mr Chairman, Australia's Minister for Communications, the Honourable Malcolm Turnbull will join the Australian delegation here in Busan in the third week of this conference. Parliamentary commitments in Australia have prevented our Minister from attending sooner.

When our Minister visited the ITU in Geneva for Council earlier this year, he aptly described the ITU as being "at the heart of humanity" because humans are social beings, and communicating with each other is essential to us all. As technology changes, and as networks develop, the ITU is at the centre of the innovation and coordination needed to keep an ever growing number of people communicating with each other. 

Mr Chairman, distinguished delegates, Australia has had the honour to be on the ITU Council for more than fifty years. I hope that our openness, our willingness to help, and our determination to work hard is well regarded by you all. We are a relatively small country but rank in the top ten of ITU contributors, including a commitment of 2.4 million Swiss Francs to fund ITU Development activities from 2011 to 2014. This is a commitment that Australia will be continuing in 2015 to 2018.

I hope that you will honour us by continuing to support Australia as a member of the Council for Region E in the upcoming election.

Thank you for your attention and thank you for considering Australia for ITU Council.