Communication minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, has announced a $17.1 million Digital Local Government program dedicated to improving local government services through broadband.
Conroy unveiled the project at the National General Assembly of Local Government in Canberra, and said the program would assist local councils take full advantage of the National Broadband Network (NBN) through the development and upgrade of online service delivery to homes and businesses.
The $17.1 million allocated to the program will assist local government organisations in the 40 communities to first benefit from the NBN for three years by providing grants of up to $375,000.
According to Conroy, the grants will initially be available for the eight councils in the NBN first release sites in Tasmania and mainland Australia including, Moreland City Council (Victoria), Townsville City Council (Queensland), Kiama Municipal and Armidale Dumaresq Councils (New South Wales), City of Onkaparinga (South Australia), and Circular Head, Dorset and Sorell Councils (Tasmania).
"The Digital Local Government program is a key component of the National Digital Economy Strategy which was unveiled last month, and builds on the $23.8m Digital Communities and $12.4m Digital Enterprise programs," Conroy said in a statement.
"The Government’s National Digital Economy Strategy set a goal that by 2020, four out of five Australians will choose to engage with the government through the internet or by other types of online service.
"The program aims to develop solutions that can be adopted by other councils and rolled out across the country as the NBN rolls out, leading to a step change in the quality, availability and speed of local government services."
Local governments can apply individually but Conroy has advised them to partner with private sector vendors or form partnerships with other eligible local governments.
"Industry has an important role to play in working with local governments to develop innovative applications made possible by the NBN – ultimately enhancing the quality, accessibility and responsiveness of local government services," he said.
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