Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications
Answers to questions on notice
Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities portfolio
Budget Estimates, May 2012
Program: Division or Agency: 2.2: SPAD Question
Topic: Suburban Jobs Program -
Proof Hansard Page and Date
or Written Question:
Senator Ludlam asked:
Senator LUDLAM: With that in mind, do you prioritise areas where Mr Quigley is going first?
So you will be aware that they are having to spot this thing out in different parts of the country and the network, provided it is not ruined by a potential future government, will gradually mesh together until it covers the whole country. If I am a local government authority trying to create local jobs in the suburbs, was there any consideration by you folk about targeting areas where the NBN is going first? Does that make your life easier, or is it not looked at?
Mr Thompson: There are two things there, without going into the details of applications that
were received, which I know you will appreciate we cannot really talk to. One is the nature of
the guidelines themselves. Following consultation in the development of the guidelines-and
we did release draft guidelines for comment-the NBN component has been incorporated into the overarching program funding stream, because the feedback from potential proponents and more broadly recommended that substantial integrated projects were more likely to provide benefits than ones dedicated to or aligned along the NBN. The second part of answering that question is that we really left it up to proponents to demonstrate to us that they were seeking to take advantage of the NBN rollout or other broadband technologies which would be advantaged by the NBN rollout at a future time in the applications that they put to us. Summing up, the NBN element and the technology element of applications was one thing that we took into account.
Senator LUDLAM: Was it explicitly mentioned in some of the applications that you got?
Mr Thompson: I would have to take that on notice.
Senator LUDLAM: ...Is anybody in the sustainable communities program unit looking at the need for affordable commercial space across suburbs in growth areas? There are suburbs that have been rolled out that do not have footpaths, because it is assumed you drive everywhere, and do not have so much as a corner shop, because it is assumed you will drive to the local megaplex 20 kilometres over the horizon. That makes commercial affordable space a potentially limiting factor for suburban jobs. Is that factored in it all?
Mr Thompson: No, I do not think it is.
Senator LUDLAM: That is going to be tricky. Are you working with the major cities unit in Minister Albanese's portfolio?
Mr Thompson: Yes, we are, quite closely. In fact, some colleagues from the major cities unit
form part of the assessment panel that we put together for the projects.
Senator LUDLAM: Excellent. I suspect this might change your answer that you are not really looking at affordable commercial space. I suspect, on reflection, that part of the agenda of the MCU or of distributing jobs across suburban areas, where they are very sparse at the moment, is just that-to create or redistribute affordable commercial space. I might ask you to take that on notice and see if that can be made a priority, if it is not already.
Mr Thompson: I should say, too, that I may be misunderstanding your question, so I might not be answering it very clearly.
A number of applications for funding under the Suburban Jobs Program included elements to demonstrate the employment opportunities of the National Broadband Network.
Consultation during the design of the program indicated that business attraction and retention is limited by a lack of affordable, quality office space in some areas.
The Suburban Jobs Program Guidelines allowed applicants to submit innovative place-based proposals that most appropriately addressed local issues, including capital works components such as the provision of commercial office space where relevant.