Unlike the elusive Tasmanian tiger, the ICT allocation in Tasmania’s state Budget 2010-11 is not hard to spot. The Budget, handed down by State Treasurer Michael Aird on Thursday 17 June, identified approximately $68.6 million for IT-related initiatives, including projects aimed at supporting the National Broadband Network and developing a whole-of-government ICT approach.
$8.87 million will go towards this process of consolidating ICT services across Tasmania’s government agencies. Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett explained that “Government IT is currently handled independently by each agency...that means some services are being duplicated and we’re not exploiting economies of scale”.
As a result, whole-of-government ICT will now be coordinated by TMD, a division of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet. The budget allocation will go directly towards developing a centralised email platform for government agency which will replace the twelve separate government email addresses currently in operation, and more broadly supporting TMD projects.
Premier Bartlett said the move will make Tasmania more competitive and efficient and is in line with the streamlining of government ICT infrastructure in other jurisdictions. He has a point. In NSW the consolidation of government ICT has been a core plank of the People First ICT strategy, and at Federal level there is also a move to consolidate the ICT Infrastructure of the Human Services portfolios.
A further $4.45 million has been allocated to long-term digital economy initiatives. Speaking at the TASICT Technology Tasmania 2010 conference held in Hobart last week, Mr Bartlett said that innovation is the key to Tasmania’s economic future and that new ICT projects will change the way government operates within the state. He added the somewhat optimistic suggestion that Tasmania could become “the most connected place on the planet”.
Specific project allocations include:
- $1 million to the Digital Futures Development Fund which enables seed funding for the ICT industry and associated commercial enterprises;
- $850,000 for a Digital Pavilion Experience Centre and Digital Waterfront Precinct which will showcase elements of the National Broadband Network; and
- $1 million to launch a trial of the SmartGrid program, which uses IT capabilities to investigate sustainable energy reforms and is currently in production in NSW.
More than $1 million has also been allocated to e-Health initiatives, such as a virtual-in-home health care program, to be trialled on Tasmania’s rural west coast. The e-Health allocation will complement the $12.9 million over three years awarded to IT health systems in the 2009-10 State Budget.