) Net beats real estate in economy stakes

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03.08.2011The use of the internet in Australia directly contributes $50 billion to the country`s economy, surpassing the rental and real estate market and rivalling the retail industry, according to a report released today by Deloitte.
The “Connected Continent” report, commissioned by Google Australia, examines the role of the internet in the Australian economy.
It said that the economic contribution of the internet was comparable to Australia`s iron ore exports, driving about 3.6 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010, or $50 billion in direct benefits. As a comparison, the report also listed the contributions of other industries, including real estate and rental at $33 billion, retail at $53 billion, mining at $100 billion, finance at $127 billion, healthcare at $75 billion, education and training at $53 billion, transport at $62 billion, agriculture and fishing at $27 billion and electricity, gas and water at $25 billion.
Once the wider benefits to households, businesses and the government are considered (that are not fully captured in GDP calculations), the contribution of the internet figure increases to about $80 billion. These benefits include productivity improvements for business and government, and added convenience for households in how they pay bills or purchase goods online.
The report further revealed that due to the increased uptake of new technologies, such as smartphones, and greater participation by businesses and governments, Australian activity on the internet has doubled over the past four years. This is despite the fact that even though almost all businesses had used the internet, only half have a website.
The report also considers Australia to be behind other developed countries in areas such as online shopping or engagement by businesses, but that there would be increased growth as Australia catches up with the rest of the developed world. The report expects that the contribution of the internet towards the Australian economy will grow at 7 per cent over the next five years, bringing its direct contribution to about $70 billion by 2016.
The report said that this growth would be possible through increased access to the internet and/or increased take-up of internet services and use. The report said that increasing the percentage of households using the internet through at least one device from 77 per cent to 92 per cent would be feasible within five years, given the NBN roll-out and the expansion of wireless broadband. It also said that the National Digital Economy Strategy would increase services offered, and the intensity of internet use.
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