​South Australia readies for car industry closure with AU$200m future jobs fund

The state's 2017-18 Budget is peppered with IT upgrades, but its centrepiece is a AU$200 million Future Jobs Fund to help South Australia prepare for a future without its automotive manufacturing industry.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

As South Australia readies for the closure of its car industry in October, the state government has announced a AU$200 million Future Jobs Fund aimed at helping secure jobs for its citizens in areas such as information technology, biomedical research, health, and advanced manufacturing.

The Future Jobs Fund is the centrepiece to the SA government's 2017-18 Budget, and will comprise AU$50 million in grants and AU$70 million in low-interest loans for job creation.

It also sees AU$60 million slated for "industry attraction".

"The government is determined to build new industries, back the growth sectors already competing successfully, and create incentives to encourage businesses to invest," state Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said. "South Australia always works best when government is in partnership with the private sector."

Koutsantonis expects the Future Jobs Fund will attract new businesses to the state and will also support local industries to grow. The Treasurer asked Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to partner with the state and match its AU$200 million funding.

The Budget also makes available AU$11.4 million for innovation, with the Ageing Well initiative, the centrepiece of the four-year innovation funding, aiming for the development of products and services for the social well-being of older people.

Additionally, AU$2.9 million has been allocated over four years to extend Gig City -- the state's high-speed broadband network for Adelaide businesses -- to new precincts. This is in addition to the AU$4.7 million handed out last year.

AU$250 million was also offered up to continue an initiative from a previous Budget that will see 139 public schools deliver science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-based subjects.

According to the state government, the initiative has been gaining pace with 77 primary, 44 secondary, and 18 R-12 schools being upgraded -- which is comprised of 48 regional and 91 metropolitan facilities.

Private schools have also been offered a AU$250 million loan if they wish to do the same.

During the year, the SA government expects to launch the Change the Equation strategy to increase women's participation in STEM and also establish the Edith Dornwell Mentoring Program for Women in STEM.

In response to the failure of national energy market policies, the government is investing AU$550 million to secure its future in the energy sector. This includes building a 250 megawatt back-up gas power plant owned by the state and a 100 megawatt grid-connected battery, as well as establishing a Renewable Technology Fund to facilitate investment in new low-carbon energy technologies.

The state is also investing AU$500,000 into battery technology over two years, which will see the installation of battery systems to demonstrate energy storage technology in Adelaide-based businesses.

The state's water department has been given AU$32.3 million to spend on IT, with its Waste Reduction, Resource Recovery and Green Industry Development program planning to advocate for the "benefits of the collaborative economy" and engage through sharesave.com.au, an open-source platform which encourages community and individual sharing of resources.

The state's criminal system that falls under the portfolio of the Attorney-General received an additional AU$500,000 this year to continue the rollout of digital audio reporting technology in criminal courts; AU$300,000 was also given to the department to upgrade the CCTV facilities at the Port Augusta Magistrates Court.

The Director of Public Prosecutions received AU$300,000 for the development of the Prosecution Management System, while the state's Electronic Court Management System in will receive an additional AU$600,000 in 2017-18 to facilitate the passage of civil cases through the court system and to develop data interchange capabilities with other agencies and systems.

During 2017-18, the Attorney-General's department will also be using the state's cross-justice agency eBrief system to transfer documents electronically between the Police Force, the Courts, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, as a result of a Criminal Justice Sector Reform initiative.

In addition, Justice Technology Services (JTS) -- the state's "user-centred" project to consolidate and streamline IT within the sector -- will be enhancing the Justice Information Exchange and Hosting platform and assisting other agencies to implement their digital strategy, access other network services, and manage their own security policy, by restructuring the justice network.

JTS is also looking to expand its operational cloud services capability; and its Public Safety arm is hoping to achieve "practical completion" of a major upgrade of the South Australian Government Radio Network (SAGRN), including operational cut-over to the use of new technologies and equipment across the SAGRN's 200-plus sites.

Emergency Services has also been allocated an additional AU$700,000 for the SAGRN, and enhancements to systems and processes to the tune of AU$400,000 will be made during the year to the state's 000 and 132 500 hotlines.

The South Australian Employment Tribunal is implementing a new case management system that includes an electronic portal. State Records is similarly planning on developing and introducing an electronic system for the lodgement and payment of FOI applications.

The state's Fines Unit is implementing a new fines recovery management system and a new telephony system; finalising the development and implementation of a data warehouse; and progressing data sharing initiatives with Commonwealth agencies including the Department of Social Services and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection over the next 12 months.

The Office of Parliamentary Counsel, which provides legislative drafting services to the government and private members of parliament, is expecting to complete the final stages of its website and software upgrades, as well as continue its "paperless" transition.

The Attorney-General is also expecting the Legislative and Policy Services to progress the use of justice data dashboards in its service delivery.

The South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service will be implementing a new human resources information management system that provides real-time data and improves the ability of service to manage leave and overtime.

SA's Electoral Commission will have AU$13.1 million pumped back into it following cuts to its IT system in previous years. The Budget papers say the upcoming election in 2018 has seen a requirement for further funding after cuts were made.

The Department of Environment, Water, and Natural Resources will be implementing the Dogs and Cats Online System in 2017-18, which is a publicly accessible database to support councils with online registration and fee payment services, while the Adelaide Botanic Garden Bicentennial Conservatory will be launching an app-based digital interpretive trail.

With an extra AU$2.1 million handed out in this year's Budget, the Department of Premier and Cabinet (P&C), through the Office for Data Analytics, will also lead whole-of-government efforts to "innovate" the use of government data and implement the Child Protection Information Sharing Project to improve the impact of support services to vulnerable children.

For a cost of AU$4.8 million, P&C will also be developing capability to support digital and IT transformation across the agencies, and improve processes to reduce risk and enhance the resilience of the government's IT systems.

The government also revealed that it is looking to secure AU$370 million over four years from taxing state-based banks at a rate of 0.015 percent from July 1, 2017.

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