Paul Fletcher MP

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On a recent visit to Shanghai to attend Mobile World Congress I was — like every Australian visitor to China — struck first by the sheer scale of the place.

One of the hottest areas for new tech businesses at the moment is fintech — using technology to ­deliver financial services in different and disruptive ways to meet the needs of customers better.

In his budget reply speech recently Bill Shorten announced his plan for a $500 million Smart Investment Fund – citing the spectacular growth of, which he said drew on Australian government investment.

In any country with a successful technology sector, the role of start-up companies is critical. Australia has its own start-up success stories. Atlassian was founded by Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes in 2001; today it employs more than 1000 people, more than half of them in Sydney.

For many years one of the iconic Australian images has been children on remote properties doing their schooling over two-way radio.

If we want to build a strong technology sector in Australia, we need a strong start-up culture.

As the world marks ‘Safer Internet Day’ this week under the banner of ‘Let's create a better internet together’, the Abbott Government is preparing to debate the ‘Enhancing Online Safety for Children Bill’ in Parliament.

The case for this legislation is strong.

One in five young Australians aged 8 to 17 has experienced cyberbullying, according to research from a consortium led by UNSW’s Social Policy Research Centre.

At over 60 community meetings in 38 regional and remote electorates around Australia in the past 15 months, I have heard a very clear message: people living in these areas want better mobile coverage.

From Mareeba in far north Queensland to Elliston on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia; from Manjimup in south-west Western Australia to Bega in southern NSW; from Gunns Plains in Tasmania to the Wartook Valley in western Victoria, people have explained to me why this is so important.

We are living through an age of unprecedented technological change, and this has profound implications for communications policy in Australia.

To start with, I will review some indicators that we are undergoing unprecedented change; next I will point out how this is challenging many of the assumptions which have underpinned communications policy in Australia; and thirdly I will suggest some principles of policy making to deal with such change.

Why should Australian policymakers care about crowdfunding – the use of the internet to raise funds for new projects or business ventures, often involving relatively small amounts raised from large numbers of people?

One reason is that other countries are establishing streamlined regulatory regimes to permit crowdfunding – removing or simplifying the normal prospectus requirements which would otherwise impede or prevent its occurrence.  For example, New Zealand legalised crowdfunding in April and other countries like the US, UK and Canada have recently changed their laws to permit it.[1]

Authorised by Paul Fletcher MP, Level 2, 280 Pacific Highway Lindfield NSW 2070.

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