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Government

Qld budget brings tech spend bonanza

The 2011-12 Queensland state budget released by Treasurer Andrew Fraser yesterday heralds a return to the "smart state", with hundreds of millions of dollars set to be poured into IT projects across the state.
Written by Luke Hopewell, Contributor on

The 2011-12 Queensland state budget released by Treasurer Andrew Fraser yesterday heralds a return to the "smart state", with hundreds of millions of dollars set to be poured into IT projects across the state.

Coins

The Queensland state budget has set aside a hefty chunk of change for tech.
(Coins image by Rodrigo Amorim, CC2.0)

The budget, handed down to the state parliament yesterday afternoon, supports large chunks of IT investment into the areas of health, emergency services equipment including communications gear and new software platforms for water utility providers and the Queensland Police Service.

Health is the big tech winner in the budget, with a push towards research and development and new health delivery technology.

The State Government will pour $61.2 million into the hospital system to "continue the replacement and upgrade of information and technology equipment to provide future capability", according to budget documents.

An additional $61 million will be provided to emergency services to refresh ambulance units, purchase new equipment and beef up communications technology.

Firies are also set to benefit, with $44 million to be provided to pay for new facilities and "ICT improvements".

The Queensland Police Service (QPS) will build a raft of new ICT platforms to support front-line cops, including a new computer-aided dispatch system, a Digital Integrated Traffic Camera system and general technology refresh to the tune of $51.1 million. Law enforcement agencies will also be able to track known sex offenders using GPS technology, at a cost of $9.6 million over three years.

"This investment will fund infrastructure activities including capital works, information technology and other essential equipment to support QPS in their commitment to making Queensland a safe and secure place to live, visit and do business," budget documents said.

The Department of Education and Training will continue the Federal Government's Building the Education Revolution roll-out, with the agency set to provide an additional 64,000 computers to state students from years nine to 12. Teachers are also set to benefit from classroom computer deployments.

"$20 million [will be provided] under the Computers for Teachers program to continue the provision of classroom computers, access to digital learning environments and a comprehensive range of digital tools and resources along with associated professional development to every permanent state school and TAFE institute teacher working two days or more a week," according to budget documents.

ICT agencies including CITEC and the Shared Services Agency have been refocused, with funding provided to continue their ongoing projects.

CITEC has been allocated a capital expenditure budget of $22.7 million and will continue its program of datacentre consolidation, network and infrastructure improvement and the implementation of a whole-of-government email system. In 2011-12, the government expects CITEC to continue its technology migration plan across the government, complete the CITEC technology refresh, shed more private enterprise clients to become a government-only ICT provider for Queensland.

Budget papers also outlined the massive cost of fixing the bungled Queensland Health payroll service, ringing up at $208.7 million. The Shared Services Agency will continue to make good on its pledge to transfer control of payroll and human resources systems to the Department of Education and Training and Queensland Health following audit recommendations outlined last year.

Queensland is also set to beef up agency IT platforms with SunWater and the Queensland Bulk Water Transportation Authority set to receive $8.2 million and $6.4 million respectively for improvements to IT software and hardware systems.

Mining tenure procedures will be streamlined with new funding provided by the state budget, after the Bligh Government provided $5 million to speed up tenure approvals. The government will also implement new online services for builders, with the Queensland Building Authority set to allow lodgement of licence renewals online while increasing e-learning materials for compliance.

The Department of Parliamentary Services will go digital this year, with the government commissioning a new online information management system for the Parliamentary Library.

State treasurer, Andrew Fraser, told parliament yesterday that as a result of the state's beating by floods and cyclones, the repair bill stood at $6.8 billion. The treasurer, however, delivered a message of hope in his speech, saying that "our confidence in our resilience, our fundamental strengths, our capacity to stand our ground and fight on has sustained us."

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