The Australia Information Industry Association (AIIA) has commended the Victorian Government’s proposed budget despite the document’s lack of focus on information technology spending.
AIIA chief executive, Ian Birks, told Computerworld Australia that while the outlined budget appeared to contain less spending on ICT than previous budgets, the government has maintained focus on improving the industry.
“AIIA has met a number of times with Minister [for Technology] Rich Phillips... and we’ve talked to him about the ICT industry agenda,” Birks said. “I think he and the government are very focused on productivity within the Victorian Government and there’s a very strong linkage between productivity improvement and ultimately increased or improved investment in ICT.”
The budget, delivered yesterday by state Treasurer Kim Wells, provided little funding for ICT infrastructure and offered no significant glimpses into the futures of ailing e-health project HealthSMART or public transport smartcard system myki.
In contrast, the previous government last year outlined a $110 million ICT action plan aimed at retaining the state's value as an Australian IT hub.
Birks argued that while financial investments weren't directly focussed on ICT, the broader strategy toward improved productivity would ultimately provided a boost to the state's technology industry.
According to Birks, Victoria remained a stand out in terms of ICT when compared to other states and territories in Australia over recent years and despite no “obvious call out in spending dollars”, would be aggressive and innovative users of ICT in the future.
“I think to be fair there are a number of large projects keeping the government busy in other areas and ICT will be a key component of those it’s just not called out specifically in the budget numbers,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anything we see as specifically lacking but we do see the right kind of approach and the right kind of thinking by the government and we think that will eventuate to better outcomes for the ICT industry over time.”
Birks is set to step down from his role at the AIIA later this year in order to take-up more directorships and focus more heavily on his consulting business. The industry body is searching for Birks' replacement.
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