"Australia has emerged in the online age as one of the world leaders in the information economy and is going from strength to strength," Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Campbell said.
Australia is amongst the leading nations in terms of computer penetration, with 41 percent of its total population accessing the Web as of May 2000. Australia outperformed countries such as the UK, Taiwan, Korea, Germany and Japan.
Australians citing costs as a barrier to Internet access have decreased, particularly households earning less than AU$50,000, from 38 percent to 20 percent in 2000.
Fifty seven percent of Australian students now access the Internet at school. Australia was ranked seventh out of the 16 surveyed countries - ahead of countries such as South Korea, Japan, Germany and France.
In May 2000, 55 percent of Internet users in Australia were males and 45 percent were female. The percentage of women online compares favourably with other countries such as Sweden 44 percent, the UK 36 percent, France 33 percent, and Germany 32 percent.
Home Internet access increased in metropolitan areas from 18 percent in May 1998 to 37 percent in May 2000. In rural and regional Australia home Internet access increased from 8 percent to 26 percent.
Although there is a substantial disparity between metropolitan areas and rural areas in terms of Internet penetration, there has been a growth rate of 105 percent for cities and 225 percent for non-metropolitan Australia.
"Many Australian businesses are taking advantage of the time and cost efficiencies of business to business and business to consumer e-commerce," Senator Campbell added.
From February 1999 to February 2000, the percentage of small businesses online in Australia increased from 48 percent to 60 percent, the report found.
The estimated value of Business-to-Business (B2B) e-commerce activity in Australia for the year 2000 is US$5 billion. Australia was ranked eighth out of 20 surveyed countries - ahead of countries such as Korea, Taiwan, Sweden, Singapore and New Zealand.
It has been estimated that the potential cost savings from B2B e-commerce activities for Australian industry sectors ranges from 10 percent to 39 percent.
"These figures further confirm Australia's continued uptake of new technologies and growing reputation as a leading new economy," Senator Campbell said.