Victoria's campaign to snare the headquarters of the $43 billion national broadband network is based around the state's reputation as a finance and telecommunications technology hub, secret documents show.
The Federal Government is working furiously to appoint a board and a lead adviser for the company that will run the network, while simultaneously pondering the location of the country's largest ever infrastructure project.
The headquarters will bring with it jobs, money and a prestigious global reputation as a test bed for broadband technology, all additionally important in the current economic climate.
The New South Wales and Queensland Labor Governments have been vocal in their insistence that they should host the project's nerve centre, but their Victorian counterpart has been silent.
The decision is laced with political under tones, as Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is Victorian, while Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Treasurer Wayne Swan are Queenslanders. While it is believed the ultimate decision will be made by cabinet, it would be strange if the three heavy-hitters were not disposed favourably to their own states.
When asked last week for information about its lobbying efforts, the Victorian Government issued a curt, two line statement saying Victoria was the natural home for the headquarters.
However, a State Government briefing paper obtained by BusinessDay details what it says is Victoria's dominance in a number of relevant sectors.
According to the Brumby Government, in comparison to other states, Victoria has a disproportionately large number of workers in the information and communications technology sector - 4.5 per cent compared to 3.5 per cent nationally.
The paper points out that the headquarters of many cable manufacturers and network technology suppliers - including Ericsson, Siemens and Telstra - are in Victoria, as are the bases of construction companies such as John Holland, Visionstream and Nextgen.
Also based in Victoria are broadband retailers such as Telstra, iPrimus. Interestingly, given that Telstra's engagement with the national broadband network is uncertain, the briefing paper lists the proficiency of Telstra staff at building and maintaining "next generation networks" as being a plus point for Victoria.
The paper also emphasises that regulators such as the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and Telstra's nemesis, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, are based in Melbourne.
As important as the technology, regulatory and construction facets is the question of funding, which the State Government says also elevates Victoria above its competitors.
"Victoria has a strong existing position in superannuation funds management, with six of the top ten industry superannuation funds (and 11 of the top 20) based in Melbourne," the paper says.
"At the end of 2006, the total assets of the Victorian industry superannuation funds represented 63.5 per cent of total national sector assets."
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