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Ministers for the Department of Communications and the Arts

Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Minister for Communications

Minister for the Arts

Manager of Government Business in the Senate

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association. Mobile Nation Launch, Senate Alcove, Parliament House

17 March 2016

7.41am

E & OE

FIFIELD:

Well thanks very much indeed Matthew and it's great to be here for the launch of another AMTA Mobile Nation Report. I think my colleague Fiona Nash might be joining us a little bit later. But Matthew, can I acknowledge the great work that you do as chair of AMTA, Chris as Chief Executive who keeps us all on the straight and narrow. John and Ric from Deloitte Access Economics, thanks for the work that you've done we look forward to hearing more about that very shortly.

I think as each of us gets older, year by year, to some extent, we measure the change in our lives through the changes in technology. I remember when I was at university in the mid to late 1980s going to the library at Sydney Uni and the catalogue was in three parts. Most of it was still on cards, cardboard cards. The new stuff was on microfiche and the really, really new stuff was on computer, on a screen that had orange writing.

I remember my first job in 1988. Very excited when a fax machine was installed. That was pretty special. Mobile phones came along a little bit later. I remember I was working for a Minister in the then Greiner Government in New South Wales. I felt very special when we'd be out and about, as I had this shoulder pack with a lovely strap that went down to about my waist, a battery that was about this big and, I thought I looked good.

Anyway, big was terrific, but we measure I think our years through the changes in technology that we see. And looking around this room, I think a lot of us would remember Dick Tracy cartoons. Dick speaking into his watch. Maxwell Smart, his shoe phone. What a technology innovator Maxwell was and Control. And Captain Kirk, some of his communication devices. That all seemed like science fiction. Fantasy. You know, as if that would ever happen. And of course it has. We just cannot imagine the world without mobile communication devices.

They are an extension of ourselves. We only have to jump on a plane to realise that as each of us, and those around us on a plane, take every last second before the flight attendants say 'you've got to switch that phone off'. And then as soon as we land we get twitchy waiting for the announcement that you can now switch your devices on. And there's a collective sigh of relief throughout the aircraft. That's not to say that we don't love and relish that planes are the last space where we actually can switch off. I'm sure that will change and is changing over time.

As Matthew said, we look at our devices last thing before we go to bed and first thing when we get up. It used to be that we looked at our partners faces as the last thing before we went to bed and the first thing when we get up, but no more. That's now number two.

But so pervasive and so much a part of ourselves and our lives are our mobile devices that I think we really do underestimate their significance and their importance. That's why this work that's been commissioned by AMTA with Deloitte Access Economics is so important. It reminds us that there is something in the order of 30 million mobile services. And I know there was an ACMA report a couple of years back that found that mobile technology adds about $33 billion to economic activity and we'll hear from Deloitte Access Economics shortly as to what the updated figures are across a range of metrics.

Mobile devices they improve our productivity. They improve our capacity to connect with people. We're able to transact business and people are able to do work in places and at times that previously they couldn't.

So we can't underestimate the importance of mobile devices. I know that from my regional colleagues and in particular from regional constituents, who emphasise the absolute importance of doing what we can to extend coverage throughout the whole nation. And that's why I think one of the really good things that Paul Fletcher and Malcolm Turnbull put in place was the Mobile Blackspots Program, which I know a number of the Telco's here have been great supporters of. And that program would not have been possible without your efforts. You are our partners and we can do nothing in terms of improving coverage without you.

So this is an important report today. We don't know what the next technological developments will be. That which today we think of as science fiction probably will eventually come to pass.

So can I acknowledge the AMTA members and what you do to make our country work. To employ people. To connect people. And to improve the productivity of the nation. And it gives me great pleasure to officially launch the report.

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