Kelly O’Dwyer, the Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer, was the keynote speaker at the Bizruption event in Sydney last night, attended by several hundred small business owners.
After outlining the government’s budget measures to support SMEs, Ms O’Dwyer fielded questions from the audience, the first of which received rousing applause from those in attendance.
“One of the biggest challenges for small business is poor internet capability,” said one business owner, adding that Australia’s broadband speeds are falling way behind those of other countries.
“What are you going to do about it?”
Ms O’Dwyer responded by saying that the NBN rollout is focusing first and foremost on the areas most in need, especially rural and regional areas.
Yet this response did little to alleviate the concerns of attendees.
Another business owner pressed further, imploring Ms O’Dwyer to educate her fellow ministers about the importance of high-speed broadband for businesses to remain competitive internationally, suggesting that some members of the government are dismissive of the severity of the issue.
“It’s not just about streaming movies,” he said.
The comments came as NetStripes CEO and host of Bizruption, Dinesh de Silva, highlighted the importance of businesses being fully digitally engaged.
According to Mr de Silva, businesses that are fully engaged grow on average 20 per cent faster, and attract $350,000 of additional revenue, compared with their digitally illiterate counterparts.