Victoria plans for an IT 'hot spot'

Victoria's Bracks Government has released a 10-year plan to make the state a global information and communications technology (ICT) 'hot spot', achieving $1.5 billion a year in industry exports by 2010.

The Minister for State and Regional Development, John Brumby, said key initiatives in the 'Growing Tomorrow's Industries Today' plan included developing a Next Wave program to identify and grow emerging ICT clusters, development of a new intellectual property framework to assist with commercialising publicly-funding R&D, and expanding the industry information resource, Vic IT.

"From now on, our ICT sector will be known for its clusters of excellence in telecommunications, creative content development, interactive applications and specialist ICT manufacturing."

According to Brumby, the plan incorporates existing initiatives totalling around $300 million, with new elements budgeted at $2.5 million over the next two to three years.

However, opposition IT spokesperson Victor Perton has attacked the Government for "underfunding" the ICT industry and said it was taking a "noodle nation" approach to policy implementation.

He said the plan was "big on input from well-intentioned experts, but low on funding, action and commitment from the Government".

Nevertheless, industry response to the Brack's plan has been positive. The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) said the plan indicated that the Government saw the ICT industry as "integral" to the economic development of the state.

Ann Lawn, chair of the AIIA Victorian branch, was particularly happy with the plan's emphasis on Government-industry partnering.

"Industry recognises our responsibilities and we are ready to play our part in seeing the plan's objective realised," Lawn said.

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