Queensland Budget stumps up millions for IT upgrades

The Queensland government handed down its 2015-16 Budget on Tuesday afternoon, promising government IT system upgrades and backing startups with its Advance Queensland initiative.

Boasting a AU$962 million surplus, the Queensland Budget has allocated millions of dollars towards upgrading the IT infrastructure of its government departments and agencies.

On Monday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the budget's big ticket item, unveiling the government's plan to inject AU$180 million into its Advance Queensland initiative -- with AU$24 million to be used to give Queensland-based startups a boost.

"This budget is about jobs now, and jobs for the future," Treasurer and Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations Curtis Pitt said.

"The jobs we want our children and grandchildren to have. High-tech, knowledge-based jobs. Jobs that rely on innovation and creativity, and our strengths in education. Jobs that attract international visitors, that promote export growth, that attract inward investment.

"We're building a diversified Queensland economy for the future. One that will thrive, no matter what the global economic conditions."

In IT upgrades, the Queensland Police Service will receive AU$107.8 million to spend on facility upgrades and information and communication equipment, including AU$2.4 million on upgraded closed circuit cameras (CCTV) across the state, and AU$43 million for a range of information and communication technology initiatives including mobile services and the Public Safety Network.

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Service will see AU$5.5 million for operational equipment, including scientific analysis and detection equipment, thermal imaging cameras, fully encapsulated gas and chemical suits, and technical and road crash rescue equipment. A further AU$2.9 million will be used by the department to upgrade its operational information systems.

The Department of Natural Resources and Mines will also upgrade its information and communication technology portfolio. The treasurer said that the AU$7.8 million injection will assist the department to improve the ease and speed at which online services can be provided to customers, and respond more quickly to future business needs.

As part of its AU$713.7 million allowance, Energex has allocated AU$79.4 million to non-system and "unregulated" capital programs such as IT software and hardware upgrades and fixes, and the government-owned water supplier SunWater will receive AU$8.4 million towards software development and hardware.

The upgrading of computer systems continues across the multiple agencies and departments, with the QRAA to spend the majority of its AU$3.3 million on computer hardware and software upgrades; TAFE Queensland to have its student management system finalised with a further AU$4.1 million injected into providing the streamlined virtual hub; the Public Trustee's office to spend part of its AU$1.8 million on computer hardware; and the Office of the Ombudsman being given AU$80,000 to spend on redeveloping its website.

Last year, the Queensland government injected AU$200 million into health IT service upgrades, with a further AU$179 million to be invested in this financial year to continue the rollout of the clinical and administrative support systems and equipment.

Housing and public works agencies will also replace IT infrastructure, with the Residential Tenancies Authority spending part of its AU$8.5 million on the cause, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission using some its AU$4.7 million in the continued rollout of updated computer systems, and the Queensland Performing Arts Trust also investing AU$1.4 million in IT management software systems.

AU$4.4 million has been allocated for cloud-based enhancements to the existing information systems within the Department of Communities, Child Safety, and Disability Services, with the forecast enhancements said to provide additional system functionality, information security, improved service delivery, and business efficiencies.