I am here to say to you that the future belongs to the people who step up and shape it. You can drift into your future and see what comes, or you can actively shape your future and make sure that you prepare and get the best of opportunities; that you get ready.
And what is true in the life of an individual is true in the life of a nation. We will have the best of opportunities in the future if we take the right decisions today to shape that future.
Your future is never assured in a competitive world – no one owes our nation a living – you have got to get up and work for it, and you’ve got to make the right decisions so that you do have that strong future.
And we’ve been very focused on that as a Government, and I’ve been very focused on that this week as my visit in and around has caused so much media attention – including this visit today to Penrith.
The simple message that we’ve been taking to people is that we need to actively plan and shape a future that gives people in this region of the world, and more broadly, the benefit of jobs. Good jobs, long-term jobs, jobs for the future.
Jobs that involve the highest of skill and consequently draw the highest of rewards; the highest of pay.
And that just doesn’t happen automatically. It particularly doesn’t happen automatically when the world has been through a global financial crisis and when the Australian dollar is so strong and likely to be sustained so strong for a long period of time, and that puts pressure on businesses like manufacturing, puts pressure through the economy.
We’ve got to take the right decisions now in this environment to shape a prosperous future.
Part of taking those right decisions is to make sure that the traditional infrastructure we’ve all known and relied on – roads and rail and ports – is fit for purpose.
Which is why one of my clear messages when I’ve been in greater western Sydney this week has been that we do need a road that takes you all the way into the city.
That it is not good enough for this community to be denied that kind of access, to be asked to endorse a plan that takes you further into the city, but not all of the way to the city.
And it’s also not good for this community – or not good enough for this community – to be asked to pay tolls on roads that you currently travel on for nothing.
That’s an important thing for jobs and mobility in this community.
Because so many people have to make the long commute in the morning and the long commute home, and the longer that commute takes them, the less time they get with family and friends at each end of the day.
The leaving before the kids have got up, the getting home after the kids have gone to bed.
So a very important announcement from us which is about this community and its future.
But getting people to where they need to go more quickly and easily is one strategy for this community’s future. Another strategy is the one referred to by the mayor, and that is to better distribute jobs so people don’t have to always embark on long travel to get jobs and to get to the high-skill, high-wage jobs that they want.
One thing that we want to do to ensure jobs are present locally in communities like this one is to create innovation precincts – job precincts in those communities that bring together researchers and businesses so that our great researchers can transmit the innovations of the future to business, we can seize those business opportunities and create jobs.
One thing that really frustrates Australians I think is when they hear about a great Aussie invention that ends up getting commercialised somewhere overseas and people overseas get the benefit of that work.
So I have announced today we will be investing $1.5 million to bring people together; researchers, businesses across the greater western Sydney area so that you can put up the best possible pitch for at least one of our innovation precincts.
New precincts, new ways of working together, researchers and business creating new jobs and jobs you don’t have to travel to town for.
So I think that’s good news. But the even better news is the rollout of the National Broadband Network, because there is nothing that will work more effectively to distribute jobs and job opportunities across this part of the world than the rollout of the NBN.
It closes that sense of distance – any sense of distance. It means that you can pursue right here locally a business that is not only connected to the CBD of Sydney; it is connected to the world.
It means that you can do that if you’re running a business from home and it’s just you, or you’re deciding as a major company to locate one of your workplaces here.
It means that work can be distributed far more easily than it is now because you can engage in real time in a real way with people right around the world.
That’s the employment benefit of the National Broadband Network.
The benefit is not just limited to employment, it’s about new services as well.
The things that can mean that an older person gets to stay at home. The new health services which mean things that you used to have to go to the GP for, you can monitor yourself and send the GP the results in real time.
That you can have medical consultations without ever leaving your lounge room. That you can access the best of education from around the world, and our young people can access the best of education from around the world.
These are incredible benefits for the community unlocked by the power of the National Broadband Network.
As we bring that power to communities we are very conscious that people come to this new world of digital technology with different skill levels and different abilities to seize the moment.
I think we all know that if right now if we ended up having some catastrophic failure with our phone or something happened with our iPad we didn’t understand, the best thing we could do in this room is ask one of these school children to sort it out for us.
So, we all know that there are people who because they are young they instinctively take to this world, and have all of the skills and aptitudes that they need to immerse themselves in it.
Then you’ve got older people – my father was a good example – he didn’t trust the automatic teller machine. He never used the automatic teller, he didn’t think it was right that you put your card in a slot in the wall and that money came out of it, and he was going to go into the bank and he was going to have a conversation with the man or woman behind the counter.
So, some older Australians who actually need some help to adapt to this new world so that they can get the benefits of it.
And then there is all of us in between who manage to adopt some of the skills along the way but perhaps don’t intuitively see the full power of this technology the way some younger people do.
So, having local strategies to help people understand and get the skills they need is pivotally important. If we just roll out the NBN then the uptake will be amongst some who instinctively take to this world, but not amongst all.
We can make sure in partnership with you that everyone – young and old, the digital natives, the people who first pick up an iPad with a sense of wonderment – that everyone gets the benefits of this new technology.
Which is why I am so impressed at the work going on here at your local council, and it is a great tribute to you and to the team, and I know many of them are in the room today, that you have thought your way through this digital economy strategy.
That you are taking active decisions to shape the future of the people that you serve, and we’ve seen some of those active decisions and their power as we’ve gone to the digital hub.
Had the ability to cut the ribbon, but also seen people learning there about the digital world – including one woman who said to me as I walked out, now I’ve met you I’ll be able to ‘like’ you on Facebook.
bviously getting into the digital world and starting to understand it and presumably not that long ago before she started taking those classes even the language of that sentence would have been entirely alien to her, let alone being on Facebook herself and understanding the use of it.
So these things are really important and they get driven by local leadership, they get driven by a partnership with the federal government, and I’m very pleased that our partnership with you has enabled the digital hub to be here, has enabled you to engage in the digital enterprise strategy, and that you have the overarching digital economy strategy for your part of the world.
So I get the special delight of saying that the strategy and that work is formally launched. I’m the one who got the benefit of the very ornate scissors to cut the ribbon with, but really it’s not about me cutting the ribbon, it’s about the work each and every one of you has done and will continue to do to make this meaningful in your local community.
So congratulations to you. I always love it when I get to come to a part of the world that’s got a real sense of energy and achievement and aspiration, and possibly most important of all, a very clear plan for your future.
I’m very pleased to be here today, thank you very much for the invitation.