A fallow budget for ICT

Following the NBN, the budget is looking thin for the ICT sector.

Australia’s peak technology organisations have expressed optimism that Tuesday’s federal budget will be kind to the information technology sector. But this is tempered by knowledge that the NBN will dominate ICT expenditure over the next few years.

While a lot of the budget content has been leaked, very little pertains to the IT sector. It’s expected that skilled migration will be cut, leading to a hole in recruitment ranks for skilled IT workers.

According to Ian Birks, chief executive of the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), there is flow on expected from the Cutler Review into Innovation.

“This should redress significant issues that were associated with the cutting of the Commercial Ready program,” Birks said

The ongoing economic stimulus packages should also look to the future for technology enabled infrastructure, he said. “From the round of stimulus package dollars we should expect, and hope for, a focus on infrastructure.”

Birks also said that we could expect some investment in smart electricity grids, and also the value-add benefits associated with the National Broadband Network, including a renewed emphasis on e-health.

“All this should be tempered by the fact that the government, and the economy as a whole, is going through a tough time,” he said.

Australian Computer Society chief executive Kim Denham said that the ACS isn’t expecting any significant investment in the sector following the NBN.

“The real gains for our sector will flow out of continued recognition of ICT as an economic driver. We are pleased to see technology issues take greater national prominence this year not only with the NBN announcements but also with the identification of technology as the fourth pillar in the Government’s national innovation strategy – this is an outcome the ACS has been seeking for some years,” she said.

The ACS also said that alongside the NBN, we must identify and focus on areas within the Digital Economy where we already have comparative strengths and give these areas priority by developing appropriate policy, taxation, regulations and other support necessary for them to flourish.

“We would like to see support for the development of some of our most promising areas within this new Digital economy such as e-Health, e-Security and e-Learning,” Denham said.

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