Boost to university placements under Labor's ICT policy

Opposition IT spokeswoman Senator Kate Lundy announced the creation of 20,000 new university places and 20,000 TAFE places each year by 200/9 as part of Labor's ICT policy launch today.

Lundy said Labor will establish a competitive $450 million fund to encourage universities' transition to 21st century learning institutions. In total Labor will provide $2.34 billion over four years for Australian tertiary education.

This is in addition to an extra $100 million to lift general capital ICT infrastructure in schools which brings funding for capital ICT infrastructure in government schools to a total of $440 million.

Lundy also announced a 10-year industry strategy for software and digital content.

"The global market for software and applications is enormous and is worth more than US182 billion but despite the strong performance of our local software industry our share is relatively small. A Labor government will focus on growing this share," the Senator said adding that open source software was particularly dynamic with Australia having a higher proportion of open source developers per capita than any other country.

Lundy said Labor will support ICT skills development and will provide funding of $200,000 for the research necessary to determine the ICT skills requirements for the medium to long term in Australia.

"Unemployment among ICT workers in 2003 was at four per cent double that of all professionals; this is unacceptably high," she said adding that Labor will also review current skilled migration programs.

This is in addition to allocating $9 million for the establishment of a new multimedia design and technology centre in Wollongong by 2008.

"Spatial information has a strong relationship with software and digital content. That's why Labor will review the existing Spatial Information Action Plan with a view to strengthening the government's commitment to this area," she said.

Finally, Lundy announced a $70 million investment in an Australian film and televsion blueprint which will be linked with the software and digital content industry strategy.

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