"It's fitting Australia has an expo like this because although we are not a big producer of hardware, we are big developers of software and services and enormous and innovative users of ICT in business and government.
"We need a new productivity drive and ICT investment has to be a big part of that. I think it's fair to say the NSW is pulling its weight," NSW premier Bob Carr said in his opening address at CeBIT.
The support will be extending to 2007, Carr said, but did not provide specific figures. The state has been sponsoring the event since its inception four years ago.
ICT plays an integral part in the state's economy and generates AU$31 billion a year in turnover and employs 100,000 people, he added.
Carr said half of technology research and development conducted by Australian businesses happens in NSW. "Most of the world's top ICT companies choose Sydney as their Australian base, including HP, IBM, Microsoft and Nokia," he said.
He hopes an expansive and reliable communications network will attract more investment. Highlighting the example of a broadband service for state government agencies and country communities, Carr said: "Our high speed data network will connect the most isolated country communities with the city and cover more than 2,000 sites in 24 major regional centres. The main part of network will be ready later this year."
He added AU$174 million will be spent to provide computers to schools -- targeting a total of 180,000 computers by the end of the year. A total of AU$247 million will be invested in broadband connectivity for more than 2,000 government schools and TAFE colleges.
Show must go on
With almost 600 exhibitors this year, Carr said it is "very optimistic times for ICT Australia" and declared the "tech wreck is now behind us".
CeBIT 2005 is said to be the largest and most international yet with almost 30,000 visitors expected and 120 international exhibitors from around 18 countries. Last year, the show attracted 521 exhibitors, a 22 percent increase on the previous year.
The event's organiser Hannover Fairs Australia claimed more than 87 percent of CeBIT visitors are directly responsible for investment decisions or play an important advisory role.
Jackie Taranto, Hannover Fairs Australia managing director, said 80 percent of last year's exhibitors had rebooked for this year, with an additional 20 percent international flavour.
Telecommunication companies Optus and Hutchison Telecom, and electronics manufacturer LG are first-timers at CeBIT. This year's focus is on wireless technologies and mobility, Voice over IP (VoIP), security and storage.
Taranto said several international exhibitors have signed up for next year's event.
Hannover Fairs Australia will be conducting an economic impact study in the next six months to determine CeBIT's role in the ICT industry.
Editor's note: For more coverage on CeBIT, click here.