Coalition to cut IT research centre NICTA's funding

Coalition to cut IT research centre NICTA's funding

Summary: National ICT Australia's future is in doubt, after the Coalition today announced that it would cut AU$42 million in funding for the IT research organisation under savings measures released today.


Less than 43 hours out from Australians beginning to vote for the next federal government, the Coalition has announced that the planned AU$42 million in funding promised by Labor to National ICT Australia would be cut under a Coalition government.

In new Treasurer Chris Bowen's economic note released in August, the IT research agency started by the last Coalition government in 2002 was given a boost in funding for 2015 and 2016 by AU$42 million. There had been concern that although funding was allocated out to 2014-15, NICTA's future was in doubt.

Labor's Minister Assisting for the Digital Economy Kate Lundy re-announced the funding several weeks ago, and the proposal was ticked off by the Parliamentary Budget Office.

But NICTA's future is again in doubt now, after the cutting of the AU$42 million guaranteed to the ICT Centre of Excellence, which funds NICTA, was announced by Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey and Shadow Finance Minister Andrew Robb amongst a number of cuts aimed to improve the Budget bottom line by AU$6 billion and reduce government debt by AU$16 billion.

NICTA has been approached for comment. The organisation employs 580 researchers and technical and professional staff members, and 260 PhD students working across 30 projects.

Lundy told ZDNet in a statement that the cut in funding will mean NICTA will have to wind down its research.

"Cutting $42 million will prevent NICTA from taking on new PhD students and committing to new partnerships with business and other research organisations. This cuts NICTA’s core research functions and will essentially force NICTA to start winding down its research program," she said.

"NICTA has demonstrated how its research can benefit the bottom line of industry sectors such as transport and infrastructure and contribute to social outcomes in health and education. Cutting NICTA means cutting innovative health research. Cutting NICTA means our next innovative research idea.

"This signals a retreat from supporting the expertise and knowledge we need to take a wide range of Australian industries into the digital era."

The Coalition has also indicated that it intends to reduce the public service by a further 0.25 percent to save AU$428 million.

The party claims that through lower equity injections to NBN Co and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, a future Coalition government would save AU$9.9 billion, and AU$1.3 billion in interest payments.

Topics: Government, Government AU, Australia


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Labor'ss legacy, again, is a massive debt

    that will tke a generaton to pay-off. Everyone has to pay the price for their incompetence.
    • Oh absolutely...

      Its not like there was a financial crisis of a level not seen in 80 years or a major structural problem in the budget they inherited from a Coalition government that thought the mining boom would last forever. No those thing definitely didn't happen...
      • The Coalition brought in surpli

        Labor only knows debt and deficit. And it was Labor who believed that the mining boom woulod last forever, which is why they introduced the failed MRRT. Labor knew we were in a GFC but nothing was going to make them stop spending, no matter how stupid their ideas.
        • Any,

          Economist worth their salt will tell you that government spending in a downturn is exactly the thing you need. To fill the hole left by the flight of private capital. That's why it was what the Coalition did after the Asian Financial Crisis of the late 90s and the .com crash of the early 2000s. Its also what Labor did in the recession of the early 90s, but in that case they waited too long and didn't spend enough initially, which meant they had to spend alot more then they otherwise would have because they needed to actually restart the economy rather then just keep it going. And that is where the debt Howard and Costello inherited came from. So having learnt the lesson of 15years earlier treasury officials quite rightly told the government to "go big, go early and go households" and Australia managed to avoid almost all the effects of the biggest economic downturn since the great depression. The thing is though they shouldn't have had to borrow a cent to do it.

          The amount of money that was spent by the Coalition government between 2003-2007 on middle class welfare programs like the Baby Bonus, First Home Buyers Scheme and Family Tax Benefits and on tax breaks for the top 5% of income earners, if saved for the inevitable downturn to come, could have paid for all of the Rudd government stimulus programs and still had money to spare. If they had had the vision to introduce some sort of MRRT back then, and I mean a real one not the bastardised travesty the mining companies eventually forced Gillard to back down to, we would today be sitting on a nation building nest egg that would have setup the nation for a century. But instead they created a vastly inflated welfare system paying money to people that didn't need it and not getting money from those that could afford to pay it. That is the Coalition's legacy to the country.
          • We live in a democracy

            and so you have every right to vote for Rudd the psychopath and his cheer squad - well, his partial cheer squad, because the other half of his Party also consider him to be a psychopath and they refuse to work with him. And that is the point, Rudd is such a psycho than even half of his own Party admit it and wouldn't vote for him. But that is your right . . . to put a psychopath in charge of Australia again!