FEDERAL BUDGET: Will it match the previous year?

FEDERAL BUDGET: Will it match the previous year?

More than half of last year's ICT allocations still to be spent + pre-Budget comments

Analyst, Intermedium, has outlined ICT funding in the 2010/11 Federal Budget to allow comparison with tonight's budget.

It found $1.8 billion in ICT budget allocations in the 2010-11 Commonwealth Budget - much of which is still to be spent.

This number was calculated through a systematic collection of all measures listed in the 2010-11 budget papers which it judged to be ICT related.

When a budget measure is not entirely ICT related but is deemed to have significant ICT components, a percentage was estimated by Intermedium researchers and the allocation calculated accordingly.

Last year, electronic health and national security dominating the distribution of ICT in the budget measures.

The largest single ICT allocation in 2010-11 was the establishment of Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR), valued at a total of $466.7 million over two years.

Other noteworthy allocations were a $100.8 million allocation for an update of the national passport system under the lead of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, an estimated $150.2 million to the Attorney-General’s department as part of a scheme to strengthen border security, and $101.6 million, again to the Attorney-General’s Department, to maintain the telecommunications interception capabilities of key law enforcement agencies.

Intermedium’s records show that $741.8 million of the overall ICT allocation contained in the 2010-11 Budget was earmarked for expenditure in the current financial year, leaving a little over $ 1 billion to be spent in the out years.

"Just how much of this out year allocation remains intact in this by all accounts tough budget will be one of the very interesting pieces of analysis to be done," Intermedium Managing Director, Judy Hurditch, said.

Pre-Budget comments

Given the hard line being taken by Treasurer, Wayne Swan, in pre-Budget comment it would appear likely that the Government will trim expenditure wherever it can see fit.

Swan has pledged that Australia will be the first advanced economy in the world to return a budget surplus.

He also promised his fourth budget would deliver opportunity for every postcode in Australia.

The treasurer made the comments as he made his last public media appearance before handing down the 2011/2012 Federal Budget at 7.30pm (AEST).

"Tonight's budget will get us back in the black," Mr Swan told reporters in Canberra.

He was referring to forward estimates showing the budget returning to surplus in 2012/13.

However, It is widely speculated that the budget deficit has blown out to $50 billion for the current 2010/11 financial year from a predicted $41.5 billion forecast last November.

Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey questioned how the government intended to turn a $50 billion deficit into a surplus in 2012/13.

"I'll give you a tip, it doesn't come about by spending more, it comes about by spending less," he said.

The government needed to deliver "believable figures" and be prepared to make hard decisions.

Australian Greens leader, Bob Brown, said he would closely examine the government's changes to get people on welfare back to work.

"If they help people who can be skilled to be in the workforce as such, good on them," he said.

"But if they're punitive, targeting people harshly, then we will be looking very carefully at that."

Mr Swan reiterated his view the economy faced short-term weakness as a result of the summer's natural disasters, but long-term strength had been buoyed by the mining boom.

The Reserve Bank last week, while warning of the prospect of higher interest rates to keep inflation contained, forecast economic growth accelerating to a speedy 4.5 per cent in 2011/12 from a downgraded 2.5 per cent in 2010/11.

"We will come back to surplus before any other major advanced economy."

Swan said the budget would be based on the same economic responsibility that allowed Australia to limit the impact of the global financial crisis.

AAP contributed to this story

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Tags ICTintermediumborder securityWayne SwanFederal Budget 2011national apssport systemtreasurerPersonally Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR)Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

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