It was once known as the coalmining cradle of Queensland, but Ipswich is on the path to reinvention as the town looks to superfast broadband services like the NBN to turn it into Australia’s very own Silicon Valley.
The town has been heading down the digital innovation path since the early 90s when the city’s leaders, faced with the decline of its once dominant coal and mining industries, decided an economy steeped in technology and the internet was the only way forward.
“Before we went down this path, the city was a laughing stock. Our kids were leaving and unemployment was high but that is all changing now,” said Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale.
Mr Pisasale said the city’s fate turned in the mid-1990s when Ipswich council took the decision to create Australia’s first local government-owned internet service provider in Global Info Links.
As the sole provider of internet services to the city it was used to network all houses, businesses, community organisations and government departments with the internet. Senior citizens and technological illiterates were also encouraged to learn about the new world of the internet with specially run classes that were hosted in the city’s libraries.
“The most important thing is to give your community the tools to be competitive. That’s what we’re doing, that’s why we are encouraging our community to connect to the NBN and to learn about how digital tools can help and change their lives.,” Mr Pisasale said.
Ipswich’s commitment to creating a digitally literate community was recognised last week when it was named as one of the world’s Top 7 most Intelligent Communities of 2015 by the New York-based Intelligent Community Forum.
The ICF judges recognised Ipswich for its Digital Hub project and Digital Enterprise program which teach residents and businesses digital skills. Next week will see the next iteration of Ipswich’s digital transformation as the council releases its budget, which will contain plans for a major redevelopment of the city centre to attract young technology entrepreneurs.
“We plan on launching a start-up incubation centre so we can position Ipswich as a technology- friendly centre for businesses of all sizes,” Mr Pisasale said.
The NBN is playing an important role in Ipswich’s next step towards becoming a technology hub.
There are some 24,000 homes and businesses under construction or able to connect to the NBN’s fibre-to-the-premise network in Ipswich. And 50 per cent of the city’s inhabitants are expected to be able to connect to the network by the end of next year.
But other cities around the nation won’t be as lucky when it comes to the NBN. Construction in the Queensland town begun in 2012 when the rollout was based on the FTTP model favoured by Labor. The Coalition wants to cut the cost to deliver the build by rolling out fibre to nodes that will connect to Telstra’s copper network for the last few hundred metres. While this be cheaper, it means internet users will have slower speeds than promised by Labor.
“The NBN is great and it’s saving us millions and millions of dollars by allowing us to be more efficient. But there is a concern with the change in rollout because we don’t want to create the haves and have nots,” Mr Pisasale said.
“The government should have been talking about what this can do for communities, not that the technology is this fast or that fast. The average punter doesn’t know what the benefit of the NBN is for them but what it does is it enriches communities and creates jobs because it breaks down barriers.”
Originally published on The Australian
BUDGET: Cash splashed to fix Ipswich’s congested highway
ONE of Ipswich’s worst intersections will be fixed with the Federal Government committing to fund an upgrade to the Cunningham Highway.
In his third budget, Treasurer Scott Morrison revealed $170 million would go towards improving the dreaded Amberley Interchange.
The project will include a realignment of the highway between Yamanto and Ebenezer Creek and an upgrade of the Ipswich-Rosewood Rd.
Expansions and growing military activity at RAAF Base Amberley has put pressure on the interchange.
The $170 million funding injection also comes as the Ipswich City Council considers a proposal from Lantrak to move 1 million tonnes of landfill each year to rehabilitate the New Hope coal mine at Jeebropilly.
According to the application more than 250 heavy vehicles would transit the highway each day.
The government says the Cunningham Highway upgrade will “improve travel reliability and reduce congestion”.
It is expected the Queensland Labor Government will match the funding to start the $340 million project.
Federal Labor MP Shayne Neumann confirmed his party would offer bipartisan support and also commit to fixing the highway in a “major boost for the economic capacity of the Ipswich region”.
“The road takes 2700 heavy vehicle movements a day, and plays a significant role in transporting people and freight between Brisbane and Sydney,” he said.
“These vital upgrades to the Cunningham Highway have long been identified on Infrastructure Australia’s Infrastructure Priority List.
“That’s why it’s disappointing the Turnbull LNP Government have had to be dragged kicking and screaming to fund this project.”
Become an entrepreneur
OLDER residents in Ipswich will be encouraged to become entrepreneurs so they can stay in the workforce longer.
The Federal Government will roll out 20 new entrepreneurship facilitators across the regions over the next four years.
Ipswich, along with central Queensland, Ballina and Tweed, will benefit from the program.
The small business experts will teach mature-age people how to start and maintain sustainable businesses.
The Federal Government has set aside $2.7 million in the 2018-19 financial year for the project.
A further $15 million will fund the program until June of 2022.
The government has also committed to continuing the Job Change project that assists mature-age workers to remain in the workforce as retirement and pension ages creep upwards.
Amberley cashes in on Defence spending
RAAF Base Amberley will take a share in millions of dollars in upgrades in the Defence portfolio.
A new Air Traffic Control Radar will be installed at Amberley as part of an estimated $96 million investment in new technology across several bases.
Working accommodation, maintenance, warehousing and training facilities will be built to support the introduction of the Growler Airborne Electronic Attack Capability aircraft.
The project is scheduled for completion by early 2021.
A C-17 maintenance facility, aircraft apron and associated infrastructure will also be constructed.
It is scheduled for completion by early 2019.
Australia’s largest solar farm planned near Ipswich
Somerset already hosts a number of energy projects including hydroelectric plants at Wivenhoe Dam and Splityard Creek Dam.Contributed
AUSTRALIA’S largest solar farm has been proposed for a rural site near Ipswich.
The proposed plant, east of Harlin along the D’Aguilar Highway, would have final capacity of 1,500 megawatts, six times larger than its closest rival.
Plans include two substations and the capacity to hire to 60 people.
The Sunraysia solar farm in NSW is Australia’s largest under construction, at 250 megawatts.
Other Australian solar farms of up to 1,000 megawatts have been proposed.
Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann said it was a complex development application from Ethos Urban planning consultants.
The company has been involved in other large infrastructure projects throughout Australia, on behalf of Sunshine Energy Australia Pty Ltd.
“We understand the attractions of the site include its proximity to the existing high voltage power network and proximity to Brisbane,” Cr Lehmann said.
“The site has been largely cleared in the past and is within one hour of the 570 MW pumped storage hydroelectric plant at Splityard Creek which is also in the Somerset Regional Council area.
“The development application includes two substations, facilities for up to 60 employees and provision for battery storage.”
“The application has been referred to various government departments and agencies for their input and we will carefully assess it against our planning scheme like any other proposal.”
Somerset Regional Council is reviewing the application.
Education City link approved by Ipswich Council
A FOOTPATH that will link Springfield’s Education City to the Robelle Domain Parklands in Springfield Central has been approved by Ipswich City Council.
Plans were lodged by Springfield Land Corporation on February 2 this year and first approved on February 26.
However Ipswich City Council did not approve the use of Hoop Pines to landscape the pathway.
After some negotiating a new decision notice was issued on April 9 with the condition stipulating that Hoop Pines were not to be used deleted.
The land where the pathway is being constructed is lot 810 Sinnathamby Boulevard, Springfield Central.
Described as an open space boulevard pathway, the public concrete path and associated landscaping work has been approved in full subject to conditions.
Footpath lighting is to be installed, and a spotter catcher is to be engaged to supervise vegetation removal and ensure any native fauna including native bees are identified and relocated.
The spotter catcher is to submit a report before and after vegetation clearing works are undertaken detailing what wildlife has been identified and preventative and remedial actions taken to ensure animal safety.