[LINK] IT matters of interest in the 2009/2010 Federal Budget

Tom Worthington Tom.Worthington at tomw.net.au
Wed May 13 08:43:06 AEST 2009

Just about every year since the Australian 
Federal Budget 
<http://www.budget.gov.au/2008-09/> was first put 
on the web, I have done a quick search though the 
documents to find matters of interest in 
information technology. Some comments follow, 
with a version with links at: 

This year I tried to access the 2009/2010 budget 
web site at 9:38pm and got "The server at 
budget.gov.au is taking too long to respond", 
unlike last year. It took three attempts for the site to respond.


Each year from 1996 to 2006 the budget web site 
got better. But by 2007-08 seemed to reached a 
stable design, also used for 2009/2010. The site 
is in the same HTML 4.01 Transitional, as last 
year and has not been changed to XHTML, as used 
for newer web sites. The code is clean and efficient.

The home page failed a W3C HTML Markup Validation 
test, with 4 errors (minor ones). The cached 
version was not compatible with an automated 
accessibility test, but it seemed likely to pass 
at Level 1 as last year. The home pages scored a 
poor 66/100 on the W3C mobileOK Checker.

As with the last two years, important tables in 
the overview are provided as blurry image files, 
while the detailed documents have better formatted HTML tables.


The budget search service appeared to be 
responding slower than in 2008, perhaps due to 
the excessive size and poorer formatting of the 
budget documents since last year. References to 
"Information Technology" are up from 9 last year to 15.


The NBN is the single largest ICT item in the 
budget. There is also funding for  the ABC to 
create broadband content for the NBN, for health 
and education using the NBN and for coordinators 
to help regional communities make use of the NBN.

There are numerous small programs to improve 
record keeping in government agencies The Audit 
Office will also have increased budget for more IT audits.

$8.3 million over four years will be spent on a 
national computer emergency response function 
within the Australian Government. There is a risk 
that this will duplicate work in the private 
sector and the Department of Defence, in the 
process lowering Australia's e-security, rather than increasing it.

There are some minor ICT budget reductions, with 
the Department of Finance and Deregulation having 
its funding reduced "... with streamlining 
information technology standards and 
public-private partnerships advice" and the 
Australian Electoral Commission saving money 
through closing offices and relying on the Internet and printed material.

There are programs for the higher education 
sector which are likely to result in increased 
ICT investment. Having just learnt how to provide 
university courses via the web, using learning 
management systems and e-portfolios,  I expect I will be kept busy. ;-)

There are some minor climate change related 
initiatives to help the department deal with 
information on carbon accounting and  web-based 
calculators and the www.energyrating.gov.au 
website. An Energy Efficiency Trust will showcase 
improvements in lighting, ventilation, heating, 
air conditioning, and computer systems.

Other IT measures include (from:Budget Paper No. 
2, Part 3: Capital Measures, Table 3: Capital Measures):

National Broadband Network — implementation and establishment ...
The Government will provide $54.2 million over 
two years for the implementation and 
establishment of the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Funding of $53.2 million in 2009-10 will be 
provided to the Department of Broadband, 
Communications and the Digital Economy to conduct 
an implementation study into theNBN that will 
examine detailed engineering, commercial and 
structural issues and report by early 2010. The 
funding will also support the department in the 
early implementation of a network in Tasmania, 
implementation of the regional backboneblackspots 
program, and development of legislation and a regulatory framework.
The Government will also provide $0.2 million in 
2008-09 and $0.9 million in 2009-10 to the 
Department of Finance and Deregulation to assist 
in the implementation and establishment of theNBN 
company, given the department’s role in advising 
the Minister for Finance and Deregulation as joint shareholder.

Rural and Regional National Broadband Network 
Initiative — ABC regional broadband hubs ...
The Government will provide $15.3 million over three years to the Australian
Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to assist regional 
communities to create local broadband material to 
complement the roll-out of the National Broadband Network.
Funding will be used to identify and employ local 
producers to work on cross-media stories and to 
provide training and equipment for the creation 
of user-generated content. The ABC will also 
establish community websites and genre portals 
through the ABC Local network to develop and host 
the material, allowing Australians with common 
interests to talk to one another and share experiences.

Rural and Regional National Broadband Network 
Initiative — enhanced Digital Regions Initiative ...
The Government will provide $14.0 million over 
four years to fast-track and enhance
the Digital Regions Initiative. The Digital Regions Initiative will promote
broadband-enabled delivery of health, education 
and emergency services in regional, rural and 
remote Australia. The additional funding will 
allow for a greater number of local broadband 
enabled projects to be rolled out. The initiative 
will be fast-tracked by introducing a two-stage 
assessment process to assist State, Territory and 
local governments in expediting the assessment of applications.

Rural and Regional National Broadband Network Initiative — rural NBN
coordinators ...
The Government will provide $5.0 million over 
four years to support up to 12 regional 
coordinators to help local governments, community 
organisations and businesses to take up broadband 
in regional communities. This measure directly 
supports the implementation of the National 
Broadband Network — regional backboneblackspots program.

Regional Telecommunications Review Response — 
Indigenous Communications Program ...
The Government will provide $30.0 million over four years to implement the
Indigenous Communications Program, to provide 
community phones, basic public internet access 
facilities and computer training for remote 
Indigenous communities in partnership with the States and Territories.

E-Security Review ...
The Government will provide $8.3 million over 
four years (including capital funding of $0.5 
million over four years) to the 
Attorney-General’s Department and the Department 
of Finance and Deregulation (Finance) to 
implement the major recommendations of the 
E-Security Review 2008. The measure will involve 
the establishment of a national computer 
emergency response function within the Australian 
Government, and a review of governmentinternet 
gateways to reduce them to the minimum number 
required for operational efficiency and reliability.
Funding for the Attorney-General’s Department 
includes offsets of $1.2 million over four years 
to be provided from the department’s component of 
the Critical Infrastructure Protection program. 
Funding for Finance includes $0.5 million over 
four years to be absorbed by the department.

High Court of Australia — additional resourcing ...
The Government will provide funding of $9.0 
million over four years (including capital 
funding of $5.5 million) to allow the High Court 
of Australia to maintain its general assets and 
registry services and to improve its security arrangements.
Capital funding will allow the High Court to 
purchase additional library resources and 
implement new corporate information technology systems.

An Innovation and Higher Education System for the 21st Century — Student
Income Support — administrative costs ...
The Government will provide $41.1 million over 
four years for the administrative costs 
associated with the Student Income Support 
package, including information technology 
redesign and communication strategies.

Department of Finance and Deregulation — increased efficiencies ...
The Government will reduce funding for the 
Department of Finance and Deregulation, with 
efficiencies to be achieved in several areas 
including by reducing administrative support 
provided to the Finance portfolio ministers and 
other parliamentarians, and streamlining activity 
relating to information technology standards and 
public —private partnerships advice.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand — funding 
for upgrading computer systems ...
The Government will provide $2.9 million over two 
years (including $0.4 million in capital funding 
for hardware and software items) to Food 
Standards Australia New Zealand to fund the 
development and implementation of two data 
management and modelling systems to replace the 
existing systems. The upgrade of the information 
technology systems will allow Food Standards 
Australia New Zealand to continue to meet its 
obligations in assessing the safety of proposed 
changes to the Australian and New Zealand food 
supply as well as assessing the risk to the population in food emergencies.

Centrelink — maintenance of online service infrastructure ...
The Government will provide an additional $5.7 
million in 2009-10 to maintain the information 
technology infrastructure that deliversCentrelink’s online customer services.

Child Support Agency — additional funding ...
Costs have also been incurred as a result of the 
separation of the Child Support Agency’s 
information technology and corporate services 
functions from the Australian Taxation Office.

Humanitarian Migration Program — non-refoulement obligations ...
The Government will provide $4.8 million 
(including capital of $0.2 million for 
information technology changes) over four years 
to implement a system of complementary protection 
for people to whom Australia has non-refoulement 
(non-return) obligations under international 
human rights treaties, other than the 1951 
Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

Systems for People — operational costs ...
The Government will provide $34.8 million in 2009-10 (including capital of
$1.9 million) to the Department of Immigration 
and Citizenship to support and maintain the 
Systems for People information technology program.

The program was initiated in 2006 to address limitations in the department’s
information systems identified by the Palmer and 
Comrie reports. The program aims to develop the 
department’s information technology systems to 
improve client service, with particular emphasis 
on support for decision making and better records management.

Australian National Audit Office — enhanced professional capability ...
The Government will provide $20.1 million over 
four years (including capital funding of $0.9 
million) to increase the ANAO’s resource base. 
This will allow the ANAO to enhance its auditing 
activities, including performance audits, 
information technology audits and other 
specialist audit activities and increase 
technical support and quality assurance capability.

Department of Climate Change — information technology network ...
The Government will provide $3.0 million in 
2008-09 for the Department of Climate Change to 
migrate to a secure information technology 
network and to upgrade storage and backup facilities.

Australian Carbon Trust — establishment ...
The Energy Efficiency Savings Pledge Fund initiative includes funding for the
development of a web-based calculator to estimate 
savings resulting from energy efficiency 
activities, and for a public awareness campaign 
to increase community awareness of the role of 
voluntary action in the Government’s climate change mitigation strategy.

National Strategy on Energy Efficiency — energy efficiency labelling —
enhancement ...
upgrade or expand consumer and retailer information programs and tools,
including web-based calculators and the www.energyrating.gov.au website.

Australian Carbon Trust — establishment ...
Seed funding of $50.0 million over two years will 
be provided for the Energy Efficiency Trust to 
promote private sector engagement in energy 
efficiency activities. The Energy Efficiency 
Trust will fund improvements such as more 
efficient lighting, ventilation, heating and air 
conditioning, and computer systems, which can be 
showcased with a view to mainstreaming this 
activity across the private sector. Upfront 
investment will be repaid when energy cost 
savings are realised, creating a revolving fund for further investment.

Participation Taskforce Review — more flexible 
participation requirements for parents ...
providing more ways of reporting earnings and participation efforts, such as
through telephone and web-based channels.

Australian Electoral Commission — savings measures
The Government will reduce funding for the 
Australian Electoral Commission ... The internet 
and printed material will provide alternative
means of providing electoral education.

Comments on previous budgets:

1996 <http://www.anu.edu.au/mail-archives/link/link9608/0096.html>
1997 <http://www.anu.edu.au/mail-archives/link/link9705/0315.html>
1998 <http://www.anu.edu.au/mail-archives/link/link9805/0174.html>
1999 <http://www.anu.edu.au/mail-archives/link/link9905/0265.html>
2000 <http://www.anu.edu.au/mail-archives/link/link0005/0358.html>
2002 <http://www.anu.edu.au/mail-archives/link/link0205/0318.html>
2004 <http://mailman.anu.edu.au/pipermail/link/2004-May/056673.html>
2005 <http://www.archivum.info/link@mailman.anu.edu.au/2005-05/msg00035.html>
2006 <http://mailman.anu.edu.au/pipermail/link/2006-May/066486.html>

Tom Worthington FACS HLM tom.worthington at tomw.net.au Ph: 0419 496150
Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd            ABN: 17 088 714 309
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617                      http://www.tomw.net.au/
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Australian National University 

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