Budget 2012 "worse than last year's": IIA

The Internet Industry Association (IIA) has blasted the government for not doing enough for IT in the federal budget.

IIA chairman, Bruce Linn, told Computerworld Australia that the latest budget came off “worse” than the one in 2011.

“I would rate it worse than last year’s budget,” he said.

“This budget was clearly driven by the self-imposed need to create a surplus in 2012/13, which no one except the government believed was appropriate at this time.”

Linn also said that there was “not much” in the budget to help business and investment, saying that the budget was proof the government was not attuned to the needs of Australian businesses.

“[The budget] confirms that the government does not understand the pressures business is under and the general effect that is having on the non-mining economy,” he said.

Although less critical of the budget, Telsyte senior analyst, Rodney Gedda, agreed technology seemed to be of less priority.

“[The budget] doesn’t really have anything that screams out in terms of technology,” he told Computerworld Australia.

“There are some things on research and innovation [and] education but other than that, I couldn’t really call it a technology-centric budget.”

However, Gedda noted that although the 2012 budget may not be the biggest technology budget around “since the NBN [National Broadband Network]”, funding directed toward new technology initiatives is still a “good thing”.

“Those sort of initiatives are very tech-centric and so even if the government doesn’t come out and say we’re going to give NICTA a billion dollars, anything to do with new initiatives like e-health, telehealth, and NBN [are] good programs for the government to pursue because it provides ... the scope for technology development in Australia, as well as the flow-on effects for that,” he said.

However, Gedda said he would have liked to see more investment in technology centres and the technology community, such as support for building infrastructure for IT companies and start-ups.

“We have excellent sources of innovation, with universities, NICTA, CSIRO, but we don’t have a silicon valley… We don’t have that sort of government direction. It would be good to see more investment in things that run on top of the NBN, like IT services infrastructure, software development and things like that.”

E-health was one of the winners in the budget, with the government to commit $233.7 million over three years to implement the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR). It is scheduled to launch on 1 July 2012, with the rollout on track according to the Department of Health and Ageing.

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has welcomed the government’s boost in e-health funding, which the body said would “drive productivity gains” in the health sector.

“The renewed commitment by the government to PCEHRs is a welcome move and the government is to be commended for its far-sighted and pragmatic approach to health sector reform generally and especially electronic health records,” AIIA chief executive, Suzanne Campbell, said in a statement.

Follow Diana Nguyen on Twitter: @diananguyen9

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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