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Budget 2014: Dream killer

Brian Karlovsky | June 13, 2014
When Saleforce.com executive, Dan Bognar, sat down in his living room with his nine-year-old son to watch the Budget recently, it was with disappointment that he revealed an uncomfortable truth about the future of ICT in Australia to his son.

The dust has settled, the verdict is in and, in general, ICT industry leaders are unimpressed by what the Federal Budget 2014 did, and didn't bring to the table.

When Saleforce.com executive, Dan Bognar, sat down in his living room with his nine-year-old son to watch the Budget recently, it was with disappointment that he revealed an uncomfortable truth about the future of ICT in Australia to his son.

"I told him you can forget about a career in IT," he said.

"Maybe you should go into construction or medicine, because that's really where the government is suggesting our future is with this budget."

Bognar, Salesforce.com vice-president, Asia-Pacific, is just one in a long line of tech industry leaders and channel experts who have described the Budget's impact on ICT as, at best, a "missed opportunity"and, at worst, a "sickening" budget that robs the country of an opportunity to play a part in the information technology revolution.

Most of the industry squealing has been brought on by the axing of eight start-up programs and organisations including Commercialisation Australia and the Innovation Investment Fund.

It has also pulled the plug on $84.9 million in current funding for research and commercialisation outfit NICTA and cut $124.7 million of funding from clean technology programs. This was against the advice of the National Commission of Audit.

As part of his magic act, Treasurer, Joe Hockey, has also kicked in $484 million over five years for the introduction of the Entrepreneurs' Infrastructure Program, in place of the disappearing innovation programs.

However, with the abolition of other programs also accessed by start-ups and venture capitalists, which trims $845 million over five years, the net effect to the ecosystem is a loss of $361 million.

There was also no mention of the government's "Cloud-first policy", however, there still looks to be opportunity for channel players in that space with government agencies looking to achieve efficiencies, according to experts.

Communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, told ARN the Government remained committed to better leveraging the benefits of Cloud computing, but would not reveal the reasoning behind the savage cuts to innovation funding.

"The Department of Finance has recently commenced public consultation on the development of a new Cloud procurement panel — expected to be in operation by December 2014," he said.

Turnbull said the Department of Finance would also release a revised Cloud Computing Policy in the coming months. "The Cloud Computing Policy will make it mandatory for agencies to adopt a Cloud first approach, consistent with the Government's E-Government Policy.

"The Department of Communications, the Department of Finance and the Attorney-General's Department are also working to streamline the current data storage policy and guidelines. He said the government had also developed a series of small business guides to help small businesses take advantage of Cloud services. They will be published on the www.digitalbusiness.gov.au website.

 

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