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Northern Territory to create Office of Digital Government

Department of Corporate and Information Services will gain a new digital office alongside helping Health and Police with system refreshes.

The Northern Territory government will spend AU$5 million this year on the establishment of an Office of Digital Government.

The new office will sit inside the NT Department of Corporate and Information Services, with the government saying it will be responsible for the technology strategy, design, and direction "at the enterprise level".

In the 2017-18 fiscal year, the Department of Corporate and Information Services will receive AU$80 million to project manage the Department of Health's five‑year AU$259 million Core Clinical Systems Renewal Program, AU$12.4 million to develop a technology solution to help the management of government infrastructure assets, and AU$5 million for the final year of a AU$30 million program with Telstra to expand mobile and broadband connections in remote areas.

"We are improving health services to people across the Territory, particularly those in regional areas by investing an additional AU$73 million to a total of AU$259 million to implement the Core Clinical System Renewal Program to revolutionise health records across the health system," said NT Treasurer Nicole Manison.

"This will lower waiting times for patients and arm doctors and nurses with better access to health information to improve care for patients.

The department will also receive AU$45 million over four years for a new policing management system to replace the Police Real‑time Online Management Information System, with the police to have AU$2 million to spend on new closed-circuit television and network equipment, and AU$0.5 million on body cameras for frontline officers.

Corporate and Information Services has also been charged with the development of an identity management solution for its IT at a cost of AU$5.9 million over three years, and has been handed AU$1.1 million over three years to develop a whole-of-government grants system.

Elsewhere in the budget, the Territory's Data Centre Services will spend AU$2.1 million on equipment to move to a "dual-site computing model" at its pair of datacentres. It is expected Data Centre Services will need to store 3.5 petabytes on its SAN during 2017-18.

The Northern Territory government will also spend AU$500,000 to improve the skills of its teachers to allow programming to be introduced into primary and secondary schools.

Similar programs to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills of teachers have been undertaken in Queensland, where 1,500 state school teachers undertook online courses in 2016, 500 of which were in the priority area of coding and robotics.

In 2015, Australian Communications Minister cum-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called for the earlier introduction of coding in schools.

"We really should have every student acquiring some familiarity, if not expertise, to machine languages -- I mean, that is the new literacy: Reading, writing, arithmetic, and coding," Turnbull said at the time.

Overall, Manison revealed the Northern Territory Budget racked up a deficit of AU$1.3 billion for the year.