More focus needed on regional e-business

THE state government has been told to set a new target for the number of people working in e-business after meetings in Port Fairy and other country towns in Victoria.

A parliamentary report into opportunities for people to use telecommuting and e-business to work remotely in regional Victoria says the government needs to put pressure on the Commonwealth for a faster delivery of the National Broadband Network (NBN). 

State MP Paul Weller, who chaired the report, said there was no estimate of how many should “telecommute”, or work remotely. 

“We haven’t put a number on it yet but there needs to be a target to drive the policy,” Mr Weller said.  He said government and councils could be the first to bring in permanent changes. 

“One of the key findings is that the government can lead by example,” he said. 

“Advances in technology mean that more public servants should be working remotely, away from central offices, both increasing their productivity and taking pressure off crowded roads and public transport systems. Research shows that people are more productive and happier with themselves.” 

The committee met in October Port Fairy,  where it spoke with traders as well as council bosses from Warrnambool and Corangamite. 

The committee heard the fastest-growing demographic in the south-west was the 20-40 age group, “attracted by good schools and health services”. 

“Many of these young people run their own small software companies, despite broadband in Warrnambool being much more expensive than in Melbourne,” the report says. 

Warrnambool City Council chief executive Bruce Anson told the committee the agriculture sector in rural and regional Victoria would only remain competitive on the world markets if it fully embraced “smart technology”.

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