Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/15/australian_budget_tech_spending_detail/

Australia's 2013/2014 budget full of sci/tech goodies

Cash for gamers, ERP reviews and nuclear waste handling

By Simon Sharwood

Posted in Government, 15th May 2013 02:04 GMT

Australia's budget for 2013/2014 contains plenty of interest to the technology community.

One of the Budget's centrepieces is $AUD9.8 billion of funds, over six years, with the aim of ensuring “Australia to be placed in the top five countries internationally in reading, mathematics and science by 2025”. That investment in maths and science should please those who argue more kiddies coding are needed to boost the economy.

Another is the change to the Research and Development (R&D) refundable tax offset, now able to be claimed each quarter instead of at the end of the financial year.

Those forward-looking plans are offset by the reduction in budget for National ICT Australia, which we'll address in its own story.

One of the most eye-catching items is a handout to Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA), which scores $4m to “expand its call centre operations at Kingston in Tasmania”. 750 jobs will be the result, which is nice. But it is also worth noting that in our reading of all outgoings in the Budget there are only one or two other line items allocated directly to a private company. Well done VHA!

If you think that's blatant vote-buying, how about the $220,000 to run fibre to the Acacia Park Industrial in Armidale, New South Wales. Lots of NBN hoopla has focussed on Armidale, which is supposed to be an example of just how wonderful life is once the NBN arrives. The industrial park seems to have missed out on that pixie dust. Local MP Tony Windsor has told local press the cash came after his intervention. That whole balance of power thing can be handy, can't it?

ERP gets a couple of budget mentions, with $2.8m over two years “to undertake a detailed study of the costs and benefits of rationalising the number and type of Enterprise Resource Planning systems used in the Australian Public Service” that could be causing some re-budgeting in vendor-land. There's also “$2.2m over two years for the development of a second pass business case for an Enterprise Resourcing Planning (ERP) system to improve the management of information across AusAID,” which will make vendors happy if the business case suggests ERP is a good thing.

We've also spotted $19.3m over five years to increase the size of the National Telepresence System, which should make Cisco happy and airlines grumpy. There's also $30.0m over two years “to improve the ability of the Department of Human Services (DHS) to meet customer demand for call centre services. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission also gets $7.8m to spend on call centres, largely because it will soon need to operate the online National Business Names registration system.

Small IT businesses may take heart from the $29.4m over five years “to establish the Enterprise Solutions Program to help innovative small to medium enterprises overcome barriers and become more competitive in bidding for government services and tenders.” Oh goodie, government work, we hear the channel cry!

Those same business may also want to take note of the $3.4m allocated “to enable the Fair Work Ombudsman to monitor and enforce employer compliance with 457 visa conditions.”

Gamers will be happy that $20m has been found $20.0 million “to establish and administer an Australian Interactive Games Fund to help support the development of the interactive video gaming industry in Australia.” The artistically-inclined may also welcome $30m for the ABC to continue development of its online activities and $10.0m heading to Screen Australia “to support the Australian screen production industry across a range of digital platforms, including television.”

A few interesting tech projects also popped up in the budget, namely:

The budget also outlines some savings, including:

As we trawled through the budget papers we also found a few items that, while not strictly technology-related, may well interest Reg readers. Those initiatives include

That's a lot of technology and scientific activity, but we've doubtless missed something.

If one of your pet projects, or one of your employer's, has been impacted by the Budget, do let us know. ®