The 2011 Budget and What It Means for Australian ICT

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The 2011 Budget and What It Means for Australian ICT

The 10th of May, 2011 saw the official announcement and release of the 2011 Federal Australian Budget by the federal Treasurer Wayne Swan.

Below is a list of all the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) projects that were announced, as well as a list of spending cuts on ICT projects that were announced in previous budgets.

Based on the estimated costs of the entire ICT project funding announcements, investment into Australian ICT has slowed – with around $1.2 billion of projects announced in last year’s budget versus $770 million for 2011/12.

We’re now wondering why the Federal Government is giving $52.4 million in funding to the National Broadband Network (NBN), while cutting spending and cancelling some programs that would actually benefit from the implementation of the NBN.

It seems as though the Government has done a complete 180 on the programs that they’re cutting, without actually considering the benefits that these programs would have had for the Australian people.

One such example includes the $132.5 million being ‘redirected’ from the Digital Education program that would have helped bring a lot more information and communication technologies into the classroom. There is no indication as to where these funds will be redirected, however it is becoming increasingly evident that it most likely will be towards the NBN. We don’t need to spell out to you that the decision to cut funding to our education systems use of technology isn’t a wise one, to say the least.

On the 12th of May, just two days after the government’s budget announcement, opposition leader Tony Abbott outlined his party’s ‘vision’ for the 2011 Australian budget. However it was more vision and less budget, with barely any indication of where he suggested the spending should be directed.

Even in the official Media Release of the Tony Abbott ‘Address to the House of Representatives, Address in Reply’, which is basically his speech verbatim, it was dated as 2010. Tony, if you’re trying to propose a ‘superior’ budget in comparison to that of the government’s, at least get the year right.

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.

• $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 lodgement 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.

• $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”.

The details of ICT funding and spending cuts was originally posted on IT News.

We would love to hear what your opinions are on the 2011 Australian Budget, this blog and anything else. So please leave a comment in the discussion section below!