NSW’s $1.6 billion Digital Restart Fund has been finalised in what the state government claims will be “an ambitious transformation agenda driven by digitisation”.
As part of the state’s 2020-21 budget, the fund is aimed at helping the state “maintain its position as the most digital government in the nation”, according to State Treasurer Dominic Perrottet.
The digitalisation plan, published on 17 November, builds on $100 million in seed funding during NSW's 2019-20 budget.
The largest share of this, at $365.8 million over two years, will go towards closing the digital gap between regional and metropolitan schools.
This includes an improvement of the integration of digital technology into the current school curriculum and infrastructure.
Courts and tribunals are set for a digital overhaul with $54.5 million over a three-year period for the digitisation of services and enhancing processes, as well as improving productivity and the customer experience.
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s planning service is also slated to see improvements, with $45.8 million set aside over three years for the next phase of an end-to-end digital planning service.
Additionally, certain Revenue NSW online services are also expected to be upgrades with $17.5 million in improvements and ensuring integration with Service NSW for taxes and fines.
The fund also includes the previously announced $240 million to bolster the government’s cyber security, with $60 million of this reserved to quadruple the state’s cyber security team over the next three years, as revealed in August.
Also included within the budget was a bevy of measures that benefit business owners.
This includes increasing the payroll tax-free threshold up to $1.2 million and cutting the payroll tax rate down to 4.85 per cent from 1 July 2020 for two years. For those that don’t pay payroll tax, business owners will receive a $1,500 digital voucher for the cost of government fees and charges.
The state’s Business Connect program will receive an extra $39.3 million in funding to continue supporting business owners.
Businesses looking to expand will also find assistance through the state’s Job Plus program with $250 million in funding.
Announced in early November and aiming to create or support 25,000 jobs to 30 June 2022, the program will support companies who want to relocate their head offices to NSW or expand their jobs footprint in NSW.
Businesses that have expanded abroad will also be supported by the budget’s $179.8 million commitment to support NSW businesses in certain international markets with six hubs around the world.
For regional areas, $100 million will be given as grants in the Regional Jobs Growth Fund for the incentivisation of businesses in regional NSW to invest, expand, and acquire customers and employees.
Funding was also provided to help job seekers finding employment.
This includes $318.6 million over two years for the Skilling for Recovery training package, which will see job seekers retrained or upskilled, as well as supporting school leavers entering the workforce for the first time.
A trade skills pathway centre will also be established to the tune of $57.4 million over four years, which is set to address skills shortages in the NSW economy, support employment for women and develop new pathways to trades qualifications.