Victorian budget maintains IT status quo

Funding for Victoria's ICT Strategy has been secured for the next financial year, but few other new projects have rated a mention in the latest state budget.
Written by Michael Lee, Contributor on

The Victorian state government will set aside AU$19 million for its IT strategy, but, apart from that, it appears that there are few other state-wide IT issues that will be addressed.

State Treasurer Michael O'Brien barely mentioned technology in his speech to parliament today (with the exception of AU$28 million road safety camera replacements), but the budget papers themselves do mention a small spattering of tech-related funding.

The Department of State Development, Business and Innovation will have AU$19 million set aside to concentrate on the government's upcoming ICT Strategy. Of the AU$19 million, AU$7 million is reserved for 2013-14, AU$6 million for 2014-15, and AU$3 million for the two years thereafter.

"New funding will allow us to deliver on the key actions as set out in the ICT strategy and implement new initiatives to improve industry engagement and outcomes in ICT procurement, as well as improving management of ICT projects," Minister for Technology Gordon Rich-Phillips said in a statement.

Business Victoria Online, an online platform aimed at providing small businesses with information, advice, and transactional services, will also receive AU$12.8 million, split evenly over the next two years, to extend its services across government.

Last year, Business Victoria Online had 625,472 service interactions, and is on track to achieve 725,000 this year. Its target for 2013-14 is 750,000 interactions, an increase that it has put down to a redevelopment of the platform in 2012-13.

In terms of capital projects, the state-owned Melbourne Water Corporation has new line items for a number of new IT system upgrades. These include an AU$18 million overhaul of its IT systems, an AU$15 million asset management system, AU$15 million in system enhancements, and close to AU$60 million in infrastructure renewals between 2013 and 2018.

Port of Melbourne Corporation has also flagged AU$17.6 million upgrades to its IT systems.

The breakdown of capital projects also provides the latest figures on how much has been spent on Victrack's myki system. It has consumed around AU$453.3 million of its AU$606.3 million "total estimated investment". Another AU$102.3 million will be spent in the new year, and AU$50.7 million in the year after, with the project expected to be completed in mid-2017.

The budget papers also list grants that the state has received for specific purposes, including for the National Secondary School Computer Fund. Although it lists that it has been granted AU$29.6 million and AU$19.8 million from the Commonwealth government for government and non-government schools, respectively, in 2012-13, the figures for 2013-14 are listed as "not for publication".

The papers note that the Commonwealth has "not disclosed a 2013-14 estimate for these National Partnerships". Last year's Commonwealth budget papers had an estimate of AU$47.5 million for Victoria. The up-to-date figures are expected to be released on Tuesday, May 14, after the Federal budget lockup.

Overall, the State government expects to deliver an estimated operating surplus of AU$225 million.

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