Tuesday 29 June 2010

Legislative council

Estimates Committee B (Bartlett) - Part 2



Hon. David Bartlett MP, Premier; Minister for Innovation, Science and Technology


Department of Premier and Cabinet


Rhys Edwards, Secretary

Rebekah Burton, Deputy Secretary

Greg Johannes, Deputy Secretary

Philip Foulston, Director, Executive Division

Jeff Reeve, Director, Corporate Services

Louise Mills, Deputy Director, Corporate Services

Peter Wright, Manager, Finance

Tim Bullard, Director Policy

John McCormick, Director, Policy

Mat Healey, Manager Office of Security and Emergency Management

Mellissa Gray, Director, Social Inclusion

Frank Ogle, Director Public Sector Management Office

Phillip Hoysted, Director Tasmanian Together Progress Board

Nick Evans, Director, Community Development

Piero Peroni, General Manager, TMD

Kathy Baker, Acting Director, Service Tasmania

Mitchell Knevett, Director, Office of the Government


3.3  Management of TASINET and Networking Tasmania -

Mr FINCH - Premier, householders are finding new ways to cut their communication costs such as Skype over the Internet instead of the normal telephone services.  Will the rollout of the fibre-optic cable see a cut to TASINET costs?


Mr BARTLETT - I will hand over to Rebekah in a minute but I will say just this:  I am confident that the rollout of the fibre-optic network will improve the level of bandwidth you get per dollar.  Whether or not that reduces costs over time is a different question because, if you had asked that question 20 years ago when you reduced your telecommunications costs, you might have said yes, but since then telecommunications costs have gone through the roof because you are using much more of it. 


Rebekah has already talked about VOIP - which stands for voice over Internet protocol and is effectively, like Skype, using the Internet to do voice and conferencing and we are certainly doing that - and she has probably outlined some of those sorts of things.  Whether it reduces the overall cost to government, who knows?  What I can guarantee, though, is that we will be getting more of it for the same cost.


Mr WING - Better value for money.


Mr BARTLETT - That is a better way of putting it, yes.


Ms BURTON - Just picking up on Mr Finch's question, I mentioned before that we have these 22 000 phones that need to be migrated to something else because these are going to be the support for the land lines.  What you have identified, I guess, is the project:  we have to determine what is the best way for government to get the most efficient use of its voice services, but now with convergence, data and voice come together - Skype is the classic example.  That is your data service that provides a voice service, so in the future there will be a shift in the usage by public servants - which is effectively what Tasmania needs - and in the cost of phone and data, computers and phones. 


[2.45 p.m.]

There will be shifts but just to reinforce the Premier's point, we have a data service contract with Telstra and the proportion of use that is expended on Internet, while the cost has gone down, the actual Internet access increases all the time.  When I talk to my staff and they say that they have had to negotiate a bigger bandwidth.  So that is really the answer:  as soon as it becomes cheaper, people want more.


Mr FINCH - Because this is a big item in the Budget as we run to $21 million and nearly $22 million, I am wondering, Premier, whether we can get some detail of the mobile phones,  and  the 22 000 landlines you have mentioned -  just a breakdown of that $22 million so that for future reference we can see what changes might take place.


Mr BARTLETT - We might have to take it on notice.


Mr FINCH - That is fine.  If we can get some clarity in respect of just the usage, the number of mobile phones?


Ms BURTON - Ten thousand mobile phones is the number and that has tripled probably in the last three or four years so that is just an indicator but we are happy to provide you with some further information, Mr Finch.  I do not think there is any comparative data but we could give something that provides the 22 000 landlines by department and we could also give the number of mobile phones, the cost of mobile phone usage and also the data contract - data services, when you get on your computer and go on the Internet.  The total cost of the data service for the Government is about $13 million.  We talk in big numbers here but it is now the bread and butter of everyone's daily life -  if you take away e-mail, you cannot identify yourself on the computer system really and in most workplaces you cannot be productive.


Mr FINCH - Unless you have a notebook like the member for Launceston.


Mr WING - I left it in the drawer.




Mr FINCH - I think as we move into the future with these sort of line items in our budget Estimates it will be good for us to see just the changes that are being brought about by the NBN and the developments that are taking place.  I am assuming that Networking Tasmania is your landlines -


Ms BURTON - It is basically data and voice for the Tasmanian Government.  Once again, about 12 years ago we got all agencies to cooperate and we went out for one contract and we called it Networking Tasmania, so that is effectively the name of the Tasmanian government contract, which at the moment is with Telstra, Aurora and a small wireless company called BBW, and a panel contract, and that is what Networking Tasmania is, so it is the power of the Tasmanian Government contract's telecommunications.