The Internet has contributed $50 billion to the Australian economy in 2010 and its indirect effects are worth an extra $80 billion a year, stressing the importance of a digital future, according to Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard.
She was speaking at the Digital Economy Forum at University of NSW (UNSW), Sydney.
Gillard attributed a recent report by Deloitte Access Economics, which found that one-third of the Australian economy will be significantly affected by digital-driven change in the next three years.
She claimed it would be a change on the scale of the tariff cuts of the 1980s, with the biggest impact to be felt in the retail, finance and media sectors.
“But there isn’t an industry that won’t benefit from finding more effective use of digital infrastructure,” she said.
According to Gillard, building the NBN is a key aspect to the success of Australia’s digital economy.
“The NBN will help Australians to exploit the digital economy by boosting productivity and creating new opportunities. We all know that the application of new technologies and digital innovations can improve the quality of our products, and reduce the cost of producing them,” she said.
Through the NBN, Gillard aims to increase the output of the country’s capital and labour, and make Australia more competitive.
She claimed that with the increased penetration of the Internet, the economies in the region will develop further and demand for Australian goods and services will increase. It will also create new industries.
“The digital economy will bring money, jobs and sustained prosperity to Australia. The direct contribution of the Internet to GDP is expected to grow from $50 to $70 billion by 2016 alone. But we have to work closely together to get the benefit,” she said.
The government also released a National Digital Economy Strategy last year, which outlined eight goals to reach by 2020.
In an attempt to improve the digital landscape in Australia, Gillard said the government will provide enabling infrastructure, and seek to give Australians the education and skills they need.
“In a range of visible and invisible ways, it’s already integrated into all of our lives, and into our nation’s economy. That future is here. It is well and truly here,” she added.