My question is to the Minister for Information and Communication Technology. The minister previously noted that information and communications technology (ICT) is an important sector that impacts on the rest of the economy. Can he inform the house of Victoria’s recent record in attracting new investments in the ICT sector, particularly in regional Victoria?
Hon. T. C. THEOPHANOUS (Minister for Information and Communication Technology) — I thank the member for her question, because, as I have told the house, I am very excited about being the Minister for Information and Communication Technology. I think this particular sector of the economy is going to be crucial in relation to how we structure the rest of our industries and the rest of our economy, particularly in the manufacturing sector.
The Premier, in attaching information and communications technology (ICT) to the industry portfolio, has signalled that this is an area where he wants us to use ICT in order to increase the overall competitiveness of Victorian industry.
As I told the house yesterday, in this sector we have now employed 83 900 Victorians, so the industry is a very large part of our economy. That represents 34 per cent of the nation’s ICT workforce, so we are doing better than other states in relation to this information and communications area. It bodes well for us being able to use that capacity to build our industries.
In fact since June 2002 this sector has grown by more than 21 000 jobs — or 33.4 per cent — so there has been an increase of one-third since 2002. A lot of those jobs have been in regional Victoria, and we are waiting to get a better broadband outcome for regional Victoria.
We want to see this happen, and we want to see it happen quickly, because that has been the only thing that has been holding up additional development of the ICT industry in Victoria — access to high-speed broadband. We need to get this done very quickly.
Since coming to office the government has attracted and facilitated more than $1.5 billion of investment and created more than 10 000 jobs in the ICT sector. It is where we have attracted investment, where we have created jobs and where we are going forward. Let me give one example in regional Victoria. The Ballarat Technology Park is going from strength to strength and becoming a multimillion-dollar focal point for that city. Under our government this park has grown to be a major regional employer. Ballarat Technology Park alone is responsible for creating 1700 jobs. Just imagine what would happen to the Ballarat economy if you removed 1700 jobs from the Ballarat region. This facility alone contributes up to $273 million to that regional economy annually.
It is another example of how we can use our capacities in the ICT sector and put them into regional centres to generate jobs out of those centres. It is part of what this government has focused upon, but it is not the only thing.
I will just flag some of the other things that we are doing in relation to pursuing new investment opportunities, including the National ICT Australia Victoria research laboratory, which will provide 80 new research jobs and PhD positions, and $107 million of investment; the IR Gurus game development studio, with 150 jobs; the Telstra Integration Laboratory, with $50 million of investment; and the Hewlett Packard corporate headquarters, with $40 million of investment.
The list goes on and on in relation to how we are not only attracting into this state many, many companies in this ICT sector and creating jobs as a result but, more importantly, we are gearing off the ICT sector more generally to be able to assist industry to become more competitive and for us therefore to create even more jobs for regional Victoria.