ICT & Open Government in the 2010-2011 Budget

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010 @ 5:31PM

As I looked through the budget looking for benefits to my constituents are areas of interest, I was very happy to see some of the ICT-related budget items. I thought I would make a short video about some things that I found interesting, and have added a few more below the video transcript with plenty of links so you can read up more on items that interest you.

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Video transcript

There’s some terrific news in this years budget for ICT across a range of portfolios.

And one of the things that interests me most is the budget allocated towards the personally controlled digital health records. This is around $466 million dedicated to establishing this personally controlled individual electronic health record over the next couple of years, so I’m really pleased to see that project progressing strongly, and I think it’ll be a real flagship of Labor’s comprehensive health reforms.

I’m also pleased to see the funding to the tune of $38 million for the implementation of the Blueprint for the Australian Public Service. The report titled “Ahead of the Game” was chaired by Terry Moran and the implementation of the funds will allow the reforms projected in that to be fully developed.

One aspect of that of course is for developing the Gov 2.0 initiative and we now know the Government has pretty much fully supported the very positive response to the ICT Gov 2.0 Taskforce Report.

Another area of ICT that’s directly relevant because it’s the platform to close the Digital Divide, and that’s the National Broadband Network. The budget continues to fully fund the National Broadband Network in the way necessary for the future investment.

Associated with the rollout of the NBN is a further $26.8 million for the Digital Regions Initiative.

This is a Federal and State co-funded initiative, but really important with respect to implementation of education and health community initiatives in our regions.

It’s about putting the NBN to work where it can make the most difference for our society and our economy.

As the Parliamentary member of the Australian Archives Council, I was really pleased to see the change of the Governments decision not to close the Archives branches in Northern Territory. South Australia and Tasmania funded in the budget.

And along with that, something that’s very important to me. To see the budget papers come out under the Creative Commons By Attribution licence. It’s a little thing, but the symbolism of it is large and it augers very well for our future endeavours in implementing the Gov 2.0 Taskforce report, because that really strongly recommended a far greater use of Creative Commons By Attribution licence by government.

So putting the budget papers under that CC licence was a great start.

Further overview details of ICT in the 2010-2011 budget

Support for small business

There were several benefits outlined in the budget for small business, and with such a large proportion of the ICT industry being small to medium sized businesses, this is great news for the sector. The budget measures to support small businesses complements the appointment of Don Easter as the IT Supplier Advocate to Government last month, as this initiative will also provide significant benefits to the ICT sector by acting to better represent the interests of ICT SMBs to government, and start to break down the barriers to entry in government procurement.

  • Assets up to $5000 will be claimable in full (Budget speech).
  • The business tax rate will drop from 30% to 29%, and then to 28% (Budget speech).
  • Our ambition is to increase the proportion of businesses engaging in innovation by 25 per cent over the next decade, and lift the number of businesses undertaking research and development. This means new opportunities for applying ICT to innovative across every sector (Dept Innovation paper).
  • Services exports did not suffer nearly as bad as other export sectors throughout the global financial crisis, and I believe this reflects yet another benefit of encouraging a strong services export economy, which is great for education and ICT.

Open government – It was exciting to see several parts that contribute to our Open Government agenda:

Firstly, I’d like to draw to your attention that the budget papers themselves were released under the creative commons attribution licence (see the copyright notice on Budget Paper 1 as an example).

  • There were a lot of points about public accountability, including a commitment to “Progressive implementation of the performance reporting framework to enhance public accountability.” (Budget Paper 3)
  • $38.7 million over 3 years to the APS commission to lead the APS wide implementation of the recommendations in the report Ahead of the Game:Blueprint for Reform of Australian Government Administration (PM&C budget paper), including making public sector data more openly available.
  • The Government will continue to fund the National Archives of Australia’s offices in Darwin, Adelaide and Hobart.
  • The Australian Government entered into agreements with State and Territory Government bodies to access their geospatial land tenure data. This was a useful win for open data, and to support the National Native Title Tribunal. (Budget paper)

Some further ICT government initiatives

  • e-Health – Personally controlled individual electronic health records – $446.7m over two years to establish a “secure online system that enables health care providers to access and use an individuals health care record when and where it is needed as long as consent is given.” (Budget Paper 1)
  • The NBN is fully provided for in the budget as per the original estimation of $43b. The NBN Implementation indicated that “the Government can expect to generate a rate of return on its equity investment sufficient to fully cover its costs of funds.” (DBCDE Ministerial statement). The current status of the NBN is at (available here).
  • “$375.4 million over twelve years to provide transmission of digital free-to-air television services from a new satellite platform – the Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) service.” (Minister’s statement)
  • $26.8m to the States in 2010-2011 for the Digital Regions Initiative – which will co-fund innovative digital enablement projects to support improved education, health and emergency services in regional, rural and remote communities.
  • Other DBCDE initiatives are at the DBCDE rural and regional webpage
  • Money being provided for remote Indigenous public Internet Access initiatives. A great initiative to help close the Digital Divide for some of our most in need citizens. (Ministerial budget statement)
  • $15.7m to Victoria for Emergency Alert, a national emergency warning system to deliver warnings to landlines and mobile phones based on the customer service address.
  • AGIMO will be “Implementing strategies such as the ICT Apprenticeship Program to address ICT skills shortages.” (Finance budget statement). They will also be “Improving the delivery of government information and services by enhancing australia.gov.au through the Australian Government Online Service Point.” (Quotes from the Finance budget papers)
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