Victorian govt defends lack of IT claims

The Victorian government has hit back at opposition claims that the state is not doing enough in its power to attract IT investment opportunities.

The opposition claims a number of recent opportunities for IT companies to base themselves in Victoria have been lost to other Australian states, particularly NSW.

Opposition information and communications technology (ICT) spokesperson, MP Nicholas Kotsiras, told ARN in the most recent example the government had let an opportunity from global banking corporation, UBS, pass by after the financial institution based its technical support centre in Sydney.

“Victoria has lost a lot of chances to build a successful IT industry,” he said.

Kotsiras claimed the bank would spend $5 million to set up the centre, but the NSW government has claimed the bank was investing just over $500,000 in the first year.

More than 80 per cent of Australia’s finance and insurance Asia-Pacific regional offices are now based in NSW, according to the NSW government.

A spokesperson for the Victorian Department of Innovation reinforced the $500,000 figure and said the comments by the Liberal MP showed a complete lack of understanding of ICT.

“The Victorian ICT industry is experiencing growth in the face of a global downturn,” she said. “Since July 2002, the [Victorian] government has facilitated 3012 jobs in the broad ICT sector and more than $165.8 million in capital investment.”

The Victorian government touted its wins with Computershare’s decision to locate its Global Operations Centre in Melbourne, which has created more than 1200 new jobs.

Computershare will also contribute more than $800 million to the Victorian economy over five years. It also noted IBM’s investment in Ballarat worth $7.5 million and generating 300 jobs in regional Victoria.

Kotsiras, in turn, has cited a number of examples where companies such as Ericsson, Vodafone, NDC, Hutchison Telecommunications and Siemens have all cut about 900 jobs between them over the past year.

He claimed that part of the reason for this was because the states were competing against each other instead of working together to build sufficient industry initiatives.