Web economy gets cold shoulder

Apart from a cursory nod in the direction of the information economy, the 2000-2001 Budget leaves the sector largely out in the cold.

In terms of direct funding for e-commerce activities, the budget's sole contribution appears to be an $8.3 million injection of funds to the government's Business Entry Point Web site for small business.

First launched in 1999 as an online site where business could register for the Australian Business Number, it has developed a number of links to other government sites which allow small businesses to conduct activities such as applying online for R&D tax concessions or becoming suppliers to government.

The fresh funds will extend the range and variety of operations they can carry out.

The budget papers include references to a three-year $50 million Internet assistance program to improve Internet access for rural and remote Australians. However, that is part of a larger $163 million program which had already been announced by Federal Communications Minister Senator Richard Alston.

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