[smh] Australia won't be able to compete economically in years to come without a super fast broadband network, Treasurer Wayne Swan says.
In a speech to the Global Access Partners Economic Summit in Sydney, the treasurer took the opportunity to talk up the government's plans for a national broadband network, a plan the opposition says it wants to "demolish".
Mr Swan said the broadband network was one of the biggest economic reforms Australia has seen in a generation, and to go without it would be like sending future jobs overseas.
"High-speed broadband is absolutely vital to turbo-charging our national economic success by securing long-term productivity growth and boosting our international competitiveness," Mr Swan said in a prepared speech on Thursday.
In 2007, Australia's broadband speed lagged behind 26 other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, and it had the third most-expensive internet service in the world, he said.
Governments had already recognised the importance of high-speed broadband, and many countries had already rolled theirs out or were in the process of doing so.
They included South Korea, Japan, Singapore, China, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and the US.
"So, the government was presented with a very stark choice," Mr Swan said.
"We simply wouldn't have been able to compete in years to come without super fast broadband. To do nothing at this point would have been the same as sending our jobs of the future overseas."
He said it was estimated that innovation from information and communications technology would drive nearly 80 per cent of productivity gains in service businesses and 85 per cent in manufacturing businesses.
"Access Economics forecasts that smart technologies like the national broadband network will add 1.5 per cent to the level of our GDP (gross domestic product) within a few years," he said.
"It's truly remarkable technology and a truly important reform, and we can't afford not to do it.
We need fast broadband to compete: Swan