Budget 2005 - winners and losers

Budget 2005 - winners and losers

Winner: Identity management crisis gets $5.9 million development framework

Clearly spooked by the fact DIMIA can incarcerate and deport Australian citizens through a lack of identity verification, the Attorney General's Department has stepped in with $5.9 million over two years to develop "a national identity security framework that is strong, consistent and interoperable".

Insiders say the scheme aims to kill DIMIA incompetence and ID fraud with the same stone. Two pilot projects launched with DIMIA and DFAT to create a dedicated and secure "online document verification service to check key documents" to be presented for identification purposes to DIMIA and DFAT. Attorney general Phillip Ruddock has given assurances the new service will not create a master database, and will issue only a "simple yes or no answer" to document authenticity enquiries and "will not issue an identifying number nor store personal details on a database".

Rather, the money will be spent on middleware.

Even so, the scope of the pilot project is breathtaking with the Tax Office, DIMIA, DFAT, Privacy Commissioner, Centrelink, Austroads (a new federal body to coordinate state roads and traffic authorities), the Health Insurance Commission, Australian Electoral Commission and all state Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages all roped into the new project.

Meanwhile, a second project will test the integrity 25,000 Tax Office-held identities against data held by all of the above agencies "to identify false identities" and "identify key data matching elements that can be used to improve the accuracy of information held on a government database[s]". Similarly, 50,000 passport holders' details will also be crosschecked by DFAT

The pilots will also be backed by a $12 million fund for DIMIA for document examiners and document detection equipment.

Winner: $43.9 million for Immigration MAL wares

Not content with jumping on the biometrics bandwagon, DIMIA has also managed to extract almost $44 million "for enhancements to the Movement Alert List", better known as MAL.

MAL, which is an alert-driven database feeding off passenger manifests processed by Customs, will get an overhaul of its IT processing grunt, a dedicated 24x7 monitoring centre and new, dedicated, secure communications links between DIMIA offices and intelligence and security in Australia and overseas.

Winner: $68.9 million tsunami warning system

IT will undoubtedly figure prominently as Geoscience Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology combine their efforts to roll out a range of sensors and data collection and fusion capabilities for a tsunami warning system.

To be coordinated by a National Tsunami Warning Centre, the project will undoubtedly see some of the allocated $68.9 million funding invested in substantial high-end processing power and rapid communications channels to keep Australia's shores safe.

Winner: $69.7 million for ASIO and friends

With identity management at the forefront of security-related IT spending, Australia's domestic spooks have also weighed-in with a generous $9.6 million allocation over four years to monitor Australia's borders by drilling Customs' and Immigration's IT systems. While there is predictably little detail, the ASIO money will be used for "better IT systems and communications links with DIMIA".

Similarly, a significant portion of a $48.1 million funding increase will go towards enabling "further enhancement of ASIO's analytical and technical capability", which translates to more bodies to man more technology to bug and crack the likes of encrypted VoIP, e-mail and 3G phone systems. ASIO's call centre will also get further funding to the tune of $12 million, while previous funding of $36 million for the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre's (AUSTRAC) eLearning application to help the financial sector dob in money launderers will remain in place.

Loser: OneTel

If the backers of failed telco OneTel thought they could tactically "price out" the legal costs of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), they have another think coming. After burning $3.2 million last year, ASIC is getting another $4 million this year to bring the perpetrators to justice under the Corporations Act.

Winner: Australian Bureau of Statistics scores $76.2 million for data

Perhaps feeling a little guilty over a chronic funding of data collection, the government has managed to see its way clear of $76.2 million over four years to help the ABS expand the range of and quality of data it collects and publishes. That means more storage, more processing power and lashings of integration work. It also includes a $9.1 million as well as a commitment to the controversial eCensus project to allow Australians to submit their 2006 Census information online, something the ABS hopes will reduce costs over time.

Winner: IT managers who pay tax

Across-the-board tax cuts, especially at the higher end of the pay scale will see IT managers earning up to $125,000 spared the injustice of a 65 percent marginal tax rate.

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More about ABS AustraliaACTASIOAttorney General's DepartmentAustralian Bureau of StatisticsAustralian Electoral CommissionAustralian Securities and Investment CommissionAustralian Securities & Investment CommissionBureau of MeteorologyCentrelinkDepartment of CommunicationsDepartment of EmploymentDepartment of Foreign Affairs and TradeHealth Insurance CommissionHISOneTelTelstra Corporation

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