Porn-blocker hit as Razor Gang slash AU$30m off tech

Summary:The Rudd government's so-called Razor Gang has taken the blade to some of the Howard government's pre-election promises for the 2007-08 fiscal year, including AU$30 million sliced from the federal tech budget.

The Rudd government's so-called Razor Gang has taken the blade to some of the Howard government's pre-election promises for the 2007-08 fiscal year, including AU$30 million sliced from the federal tech budget.

Addressing the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday, Federal Minister for Finance and Deregulation Senator Lindsay Tanner said: "The problem we have inherited from the former Liberal Government isn't to do with tax cuts. It's government spending that is growing at an unsustainable rate."

The total spending cuts amount to AU$642.9 million, affecting environmental, cultural, communications and technology initiatives. Cuts to technology related spending, including marketing dollars for the controversial NetAlert program, amount to AU$30 million.

AU$6.4 million will be slashed from the NetAlert program's education (AU$700,000) and advertising (AU$5.7 million) budget. The initial cost of NetAlert, announced by the Coalition government in August last year, was AU$187 million. While AU$84 million was spent on filtering technology, AU$22 million was allocated to an awareness scheme to inform parents and carers of children about online safety issues.

Other important cuts include the AU$6.7 million from the telecommunications improvement and procurement project, and AU$5 million each from the Innovation Ambassador program and the establishment of the APAC Network for Energy Technology program.

According to technology analyst John Brand, of research firm Hydrasight, there have been several government-backed technology projects which have been "questionable".

"Any budget cut that is done with a reasonable degree of common sense and with a review of those projects' expected benefits, how the project has been structured, and the often complex sourcing contract that have been involved -- I think that's a good thing to make those targets," said Brand.

What remains to be seen however is whether those savings will be utilised to better effect than previously.

"The questions is: is the government shuffling money around or saving money to spend it elsewhere? If so, where will it be spent and will it deliver more value?" added Brand.

Topics: Government, Emerging Tech, Government : AU, Tech Industry

About

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, s... Full Bio

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