Treasurer Wayne Swan's Federal Budget for 2011/12 was arguably more conservative than his last, but in sum there was more spending on ICT programs than cuts.
Overall, the Federal Government applied the brakes on some spending programs - with $22 billion in cuts announced versus $9 billion in funding announcements.
The deficit nonetheless came in at $49.4 billion for 2010/11, is projected to continue to track higher than previous estimates in 2011/12 (at $22.6 billion) before the Government's promised surplus in 2012/13.
These figures relied on bullish predictions of Real GDP growth at four percent in 2011/2012 and 3.75 percent in 2012/13, due largely to a flourishing mining and resources sector.
ICT Projects announced:
- $373.6 million over four years to integrate the ICT infrastructure of Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support to develop a single gateway for the three agencies.
- $157.6 million over four years to enhance and develop ICT to give Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support customised access to their transaction accounts.
- $63.4 million over 15 years to redevelop IP Australia’s core Trade Marks and Design business systems.
- $61.4 million over three years to fund "smart infrastructure technologies" for motorways by integrating data collection sensors and control tools to improve real time management of motorways.
- $40.2 million over four years to support an Aus-NZ bid to host the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope accessed by astrophysicists via broadband access.
- $38.7 million over four years to complete the transition of a single portfolio website and telephone number for Medicare, Child Support and Centrelink.
- $35.6 million over five years to continue to support NBN implementation.
- $20 million over five years to continue the Tasmanian Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Centre. CSIRO to provide a matching contribution of $20 million.
- $19.9 million over four years to improve internet access for Australian Defence personnel while on operations.
- $14.4 million over five years to establish a single mental health online portal for consumers and practitioners.
- $12.8 million over four years to develop an NBN regulatory framework.
- $10.4 million over four years for continuing the 2000 “Broadband for Seniors” kiosks which provide free net access to older Australians along with free computer training.
- $6.3 million over four years to improve access to Medicare via an online service that allows lodgment and payment of claims.
- $4.2 million for the development of a business case for improving ICT for bio-security activities.
- $4.2 million to establish and maintain a “MyRegion” website to provide information about Regional Australia’s infrastructure, health and aged care, education and other services.
- $4 million over four years to improve access to legal support via the NBN for regional Australia
- $3.4 million for a pilot program to investigate options for redesigning ICT for veteran rehabilitation and compensations programs.
- $2.3 million to investigate and test ways to improve access to Government services via ICT.
- $1.7 million over four years to enable an electronic exchange between Veteran Affairs and financial institutions to improve debt recovery.
- $1.6 million for a review of communications regulation.
ICT spending cuts:
- $132.5 million over four years will be redirected from the Digital Education revolution for integrating ICT into teaching and learning to “other priorities”
- $78.4 million will be redirected over three years from the Vocational Education Broadband Network. The NBN is expected to deliver the same functionality as the VEBN. The VEBN was proposed in 2009 to build an AARNet style network for the TAFE sector.
- $12.1 million in savings over four years from operational efficiencies with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.
- $9.6 million from not proceeding with the “Voluntary Internet Filtering Grants Program”. This has been taken over by the three largest ISPs offering to undertake this function. Savings will be redirected to “other priorities”.
- An unspecified number of Defence ICT staff are among the 1000 due to lose their jobs as a result of the Budget announcements.
Based on the crude summary of all the ICT project funding announcements iTnews pulled out of the Budget papers this year and last year, investment in ICT has slowed - with around $1.2 billion of projects announced last year's Budget versus $770 million for 2011/12.
What were your thoughts on the Budget? Comment below.