Politics Analysis

2024 Budget strengthens Australia's digital infrastructure

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Treasurer Jim Chalmers has delivered the Labor Government's 2024 Budget (Screenshot via YouTube - edited)

The 2024 Budget has revealed the Government's commitment to advancing technology and digital infrastructure across various sectors, writes Paul Budde.

OVER THE LAST 30 years, I have followed the Budget announcements and have always looked at what is in it for the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry.

It is interesting to follow the trends in such spending. If we go back over a decade or so, ICT projects were very much stand-alone, often provided to telecommunications companies. However, over the last decade, we have seen a totally different trend as ICT has become far more embedded across our society and economy.

It is now a central strategic item for any organisation, which is very well reflected in this year’s Budget, with 34 ICT initiatives right across the board. Each initiative contributes to the advancement and modernisation of technology systems and policies across different sectors.

Australian Bureau of Statistics has been granted $57.9 million over six years to modernise legacy systems and operations for surveys. Aged care ICT infrastructure has been allocated $174.5 million over two years to implement necessary infrastructure improvements, while aged care classification ICT preparation receives $4.1 million over three years for preparatory work.

Anti-scam funding of $37.3 million over four years aims at administering and enforcing industry codes to tackle scams, whereas the Australian Public Service (APS) capability uplift receives $2.2 million to enhance capability across the APS.

For real-time identification and blocking of suspicious activity, Australian Tax Office ICT upgrades have been granted $78.7 million. Australian Skills Guarantee reporting solution aims to implement a reporting solution with a budget of $10.6 million.

Communication priorities support receives $43.2 million over five years to bolster communication priorities, including digital inclusion and resilience. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) ICT and security upgrade secures $187.8 million over four years for critical security enhancements.

Digital assets legislation and consumer protections have been allocated $7.5 million over four years, focusing on developing legislation and consumer protections around digital assets. Similarly, digital ID adoption receives a substantial $288.1 million over four years to boost its adoption.

For eSafety compliance support, $1.4 million has been granted over two years to support legal and compliance functions under the Online Safety Act 2021. First Nations digital inclusion aims at various digital inclusion programs, receiving $68 million.

A Technology Foreign Interference Taskforce is set up with a budget of $4.2 million over four years. To boost fraud detection at the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), $83.9 million over two years has been allocated.

MyGov platform enhancements have been allotted $50 million over four years — stemming from user audit findings. The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission is set to receive $160.7 million over four years for I.T. system upgrades.

The National Artificial Intelligence Centre secures $39.9 million over five years to support the adoption and use of AI technology. For the development and implementation of the National Firearms Register, $161.3 million over four years has been allocated.

The National Measurement Institute will receive $145.4 million over two years to maintain core scientific measurement and ICT capabilities. Parliamentary business technology systems will secure $22.4 million over four years for modernisation.

The Parliamentary Expenses Management System (PEMS) receives $9.8 million over two years for systems development. Provider Registration and International Student Management System (PRISMS) enhancement has been allotted $2.6 million.

PsiQuantum will receive substantial funding of $466.4 million in equity and loans to build a quantum computer in Queensland. Regional mobile coverage is set to receive $50 million for enhancing mobile coverage.

For overseeing and operating the secure e-invoicing network, $23.3 million over four years has been allocated. Services Australia will secure long-term funding for myGov, receiving $580.3 million over four years.

Trade simplification and the Digital Trade Accelerator program will receive $29.9 million over four years, while Workforce Australia I.T. Improvements has secured $10.9 million over four years.

These projects collectively signify the Government's commitment to advancing technology and digital infrastructure across various sectors.

Paul Budde is an Independent Australia columnist and managing director of Paul Budde Consulting, an independent telecommunications research and consultancy organisation. You can follow Paul on Twitter @PaulBudde.

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