This week’s newsletter includes our analysis of the federal and NT Budgets. We are still pouring over the WA budget statements (two volumes). New Zealand’s is scheduled to drop tomorrow (Thursday) and Victoria next Tuesday (23rd May), with NSW confirming they will release theirs on 19 September.
This weekend marks the one year anniversary of the election of the Albanese Government.
In a move that will largely impact the (EL1 & EL2) managers of Canberra’s consultant and contractor ICT workforce, the Commonwealth has offered public servants a 10.5% wage rise over three years (4% in first year, then 3.5%, then 3%). The CPSU had asked for 9%, 6%, and 5%. Members will have until 30 May to vote on the offer.
Among the observations from the Budget... the new National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) is going to be much larger, in both staffing and its funding allocation, than we assumed from analysing the structure of the Victorian, NSW, and WA state anti-corruption bodies last year. We predicted that a Commonwealth version would “have 120-150 staff and an annual budget of $30-40 million.” This year's Budget Paper 4 reveals the actual figures for the NACC are significantly higher: 239 staff and $88 million. The agency was given $27.5 million to build a “secure and independent ICT environment” in last year’s October Budget Update.
It is National Road Safety Week (14-21), and there have been several news stories about the problems with the road safety data system, we have been following the issue for almost two years now (to no avail) since the national Data and Digital Ministers Meeting (DDMM) agreed that it would be a priority in August 2021. It was quietly dropped from the DDMM agenda late last year.
The bipartisan Joint Committee of Public Account and Audit (JCPAA) has kicked off a new inquiry into controversial procurements at Service Australia and the NDIA under former Minister Stuart Robert. It is the latest investigation into the matter that was triggered by a series of whistleblower leaks to the Nine newspapers.
STATE BY STATE
The NSW parliament has confirmed that the Budget will be delivered on Tuesday 19 September and released the sitting calendar for the remainder of 2023. Budget Estimates will run over three (rather than two) weeks from 24 October to 10 November.
Public Transport Victoria has awarded US firm Conduent a $1.7 billion contract over 15 years to replace NTT as the operator of the state’s antiquated Myki public transport ticketing system. The new system will allow credit card, phone and smartwatch payments – technology that has existed in London since 2012 and Sydney since 2018. The new ticketing contract will begin on 1 December 2023.
Tasmania is starting to release details on funding allocations ahead of the release of its state Budget, slated for next Thursday 25 May, with a $10 million to upgrade the state’s (recently merged) Fire Service and State Emergency Service stations. ICT suppliers should note the two entities will keep their public identities but move to a common operating platform, with funding arrangements likely to be revealed next week.
NZ Finance Minister Grant Robertson has delivered his traditional pair of pre-budget speeches, one in Wellington (to the Chamber of Commerce) and another in Auckland (BNZ Business Breakfast) , promising a no-frills Budget (his sixth) on Thursday. Both emphasised the impact of the Auckland floods and Cyclone Gabrielle on the Budget planning process, part of a series of “whiplash shifts” (pandemic, the Ukraine War) that have tested the country’s resilience. The speeches confirm ministers have been told to find savings. While there will be money to replace damaged telco infrastructure, we are expecting to see a dip in ICT spending in what will be an election Budget that is focused on “health, education and housing.”
In news that we simply couldn’t resist... the FBI has cracked a long-running Russian hacking scheme, or in their words “neutralized the FSB’s premier cyberespionage malware implant.” As usual, the authorities turned to ancient Greco-Roman mythology for their cryptonyms. The target of Operation MEDUSA was a global network of computers that had been compromised by sophisticated malware, that US authorities called “Snake.” The FBI deployed an FBI-created tool named PERSEUS, which issued commands that caused the Snake to overwrite its own vital components (turning POLYDECTES to stone!).
And in what may be a retaliatory action, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has been hit by a data breach affecting the personal information of 237,000 current and former federal employees. The department has advised congress the breach occurred in a system to manage transit benefits.