Tuesday 23 June 2009
Legislative Council
Estimates Committee B  (David Bartlett)

Mr FINCH - I want to move away from the phone situation.  I'm not scooting ahead to Education but I want to look at the new polytechnics.  I am informed that since secondary colleges will become part of polytechnic campuses their computer services have entered a disaster zone - that's how it has been described to me.  There are long waits and lack of access.  Is there a response to that? 

Mr BARTLETT - Well, a better time to raise that would be when we get to Education but I am happy to give you an overview.  I think 'disaster zone' is a bit harsh, to be honest.  In fact I know from my own background that bringing together nine campuses in a short period of time to operate on disparate systems, two different enrolment systems, a whole range of things, is an extremely complex task and I think the shared services unit in the Polytechnic and the IT area did a very good job in doing that.  But they would say themselves that not all the services available to teachers in some areas were available on day one as they switched on.  I can only go on what the committee was told yesterday by the CEOs of the two organisations who said that significant improvement had been made.  I would also add this: I think we need a significant investment in information technology systems across the new institutions to get them to the level that I want to see in student administration and, more to the point, in teaching and learning. 

The truth of the matter is that there is nothing really different in the systems that were out there operating in colleges and in TAFE campuses from last year to this year; partly it is about finding something that is wrong and partly it is about trying to bring old systems together with new systems and the normal migration issues.  I am happy to explore that further when we get to that output.

[12.30 p.m.]
Mr FINCH - Yes, quite a few of my questions were about what is happening in the Polytechnic.

Mr BARTLETT - TMD would have very little to do with that, other than they might sell some telecommunications services through the Network in Tasmania contract which is essentially Telstra services in telecommunications.

Mr FINCH - This question too is probably going over ground that you have covered before about the National Broadband Network, but can you give Tasmanians in rural areas an assurance that they will have access to broadband when the national and other schemes are rolled out.

Mr BARTLETT - I can give you an assurance that at the completion of the rollout of the National Broadband Network in Tasmania a far greater proportion of Tasmanians will have access to the best broadband in the world than any other place on the planet.

Mr FINCH - That is a good assurance, because there are a lot of people in smaller rural communities particularly who are so disadvantaged at the moment.

Mr BARTLETT - Absolutely.  I have said it plenty of times, and I have been quoted plenty of times so the journalists in the room don't have to rewrite it, but I have said that I don't think Telstra has been a friend to Tasmania and that is not denigrating the people who work for Telstra in Tasmania because most of them are my friends - I used to work with them there.  They do a great job, but when the privatisation and the deregulation of telecommunications happened in Australia, it did not favour Tasmania.