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Making a Difference in Fraser

I spoke today about the federal government actions that have made a positive difference in my electorate of Fraser.

Appropriations Bills, 12 February 2013

There are several old chestnuts the Liberals can be relied on to trot out every election year, and one of those that we hear so often in the ACT is the line, ‘Labor ignores Canberra’—the suggestion that somehow Labor governments take Canberra for granted. But, unfortunately for the Liberals, the people of Fraser are a clever bunch. They are able to see through this line easily, because it is so demonstrably false. The investments that this Labor government has made in Fraser are visible everywhere, from the Majura Parkway to the National Broadband Network rolling out and the many schools enjoying new facilities thanks to the Building the Education Revolution program.

In fact, if you were to take the time to visit all of the sites where Labor has invested in my electorate of Fraser, you would be taking a pretty comprehensive tour of Canberra’s north. I can even provide you with a loose itinerary. You can set off from the flourishing suburb of Braddon, where my electorate office is located and where Minister for Human Services Kim Carr and I opened a one-stop shop for Medicare and Centrelink in October last year. The co-location of these facilities is a core part of Labor’s service delivery reforms. It is making access to housing, health, crisis support, education and training, and family and financial support easier for Canberrans.

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Construction of the NBN begins in Civic

In about 12 months, people living in the shaded area will be able to connect to the NBN

Yesterday, I welcomed the release of detailed maps by NBN Co, showing where construction of the National Broadband Network (NBN) will start in Civic.

This is really exciting for local families and business in the Civic area. In around 12 months’ time, people in Civic will be able to start connecting to the National Broadband Network. The map shows that NBN fibre is being rolled out Civic, Acton and parts of Braddon which will allow more residents access to faster, affordable and more reliable broadband.

The map is another sign that construction of the National Broadband Network is continuing to accelerate, with work now having commenced or been completed to over 784,000 homes and businesses across Australia. The release of this map means that work is starting in this area and over the next few months, we’ll start to see NBN Co workers locally doing the detailed planning and inspection work, and then rolling out the fibre. Within around twelve months, construction of the NBN in Civic will be completed. This means that families and businesses will be able to connect to faster, more reliable broadband services. A standard NBN connection to the home or office is free – and NBN retail services are available for similar prices to what people are paying now, but for a much superior service.

The National Broadband Network is about preparing Australia for the future. It’s about ensuring that our local communities in places like Canberra are not left behind as the world and our local economy changes. From seeing your local doctor from home, to your kids being able to take a specialist class at another school – the NBN will change the way we live, work, and access services. It will lead to a new wave of innovation, and I’m delighted that people in Civic will be among the first to benefit.

Privacy Reform & Identity Theft

I spoke in parliament about privacy reforms, and their tie-in with Labor’s tradition of consumer protection.

Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Bill, 23 August 2012

Personal information is becoming more sensitive and valuable in the expanding online world. Protecting the privacy of personal information is a real concern for consumers and business. On one estimate, identity theft and fraud affects half a million Australians every year. In 2007, my friend Joshua Gans wrote in his blog about his own experience of identity theft. He wrote that somebody had obtained his details using his birthdate, which was available on his CV. They then obtained a Medicare card and began to open bank accounts in his name. He discovered later that he was among the victims of a large scamming operation which has since been shut down by the authorities. He was pretty shocked by the experience. Joshua’s experience shows the importance of privacy protection and why we need strong legislative protection of personal information.

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Good Games

My column in the local Chronicle newspaper is on the new R18+ rating for computer games.

Support for R18+ rating for games, The Chronicle, 3 April 2012

One of the fastest-growing pastimes in Australia is computer gaming. According to one recent survey, 95 per cent of Australian homes with children under the age of 18 had a device for playing games.

Over the past generation, we’ve moved from clunky arcade games like Pacman and Space Invaders to games like EverQuest and World of Warcraft, with slick graphics and millions of players interacting with one another. No longer are gamers just teenage boys. Today, nearly half of all gamers are women, and the typical Australian gamer is aged 32.

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A Twitter Randomised Trial – The Results

At the start of February, I began a randomised trial of twitter. I said that I was a twitter-sceptic, but plenty of people (including Louise, Joshua & Holly) had been pushing me to give it a go. So picking up an idea of Justin Wolfers, I decided to use a randomised trial to test whether twitter made me happier and more productive. I figured that if I was going to move a motion in parliament calling for more policy randomised trials, the least I could do was to experiment on myself.

The experiment worked like this. At the end of each day, I rated my happiness and productivity on a 1-10 scale, and then tossed a coin to decide to tweet the following day.

Yesterday, the 29-day experiment ended. Over the month, my average happiness was 6.9, and my average productivity was 6.5. Out of curiosity, I began by looking at how both metrics related to the two big shifts in my week: parliamentary sittings and weekends. Though the difference isn’t statistically significant, the data suggests that weekends find me happier and less productive, while sittings find me less happy and more productive.

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I spoke in parliament yesterday about one of the pieces of legislation that will enable the building of the National Broadband Network.

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Congratulations to my ACT colleague Senator Kate Lundy, who has been named one of the Top 10 People Changing the World of Internet and Politics at the 11th World eDemocracy Forum held last week in Paris.