Budget 2004: Not much for ICT

Despite an increase in spending of $2.4 billion, this year's budget appears to offer little to the IT sector beyond a commitment to online government services.

Despite an increase in spending of $2.4 billion, this year's budget appears to offer little to the IT sector beyond a commitment to online government services.

An extra $14.8 million has been put aside to spend over the next four years on "secure online services for government".

State Services Minister Trevor Mallard says the money will be spent on offering better, more secure online services, but categorically rules out a national ID card system.

"The system, known as online authentication, allows people and agencies to have confidence in each other’s identity when conducting transactions online. It is one of the key elements of e-government and will become increasingly important as agencies extend the range of their online services,” says Mallard.

Government-wide standards will be developed in conjunction with the State Services Commission's e-government unit.

"The State Services Commission’s e-government unit in conjunction with the Department of Internal Affairs will now develop and implement government-wide standards for authentication. The Privacy Commissioner will also be consulted on any privacy concerns. A national ID card has been ruled out."

The rest of the budget has little to say about technology. However, there are several general business initiatives that would impact on the IT sector, in particular the exportation sector.

Exporters will receive "export development assistance" designed to help firms develop links with offshore businesses and customers to the tune of $35 million over four years.

There will also be assistance for "specialised business sectors" to work jointly to develop offshore markets, budgeted at $26 million over four years.

The "Research for Industry" initiative will receive $75 million over four years to help "develop new processes, products and services".

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