Last night, the Federal government unveiled their budget for the coming year. The old days of "smokes are up, beer is up" are well behind us with the government's economic centrepiece now a collection of promises and wishes that are meant somehow to make us feel better about today and have confidence in tomorrow. This year, there were plenty of tech angles in the budget. Here are my five highlights.
#1 Dealing with #censusfail
After the balls-up that was the country's first mainly electronic census, the Senate Economics References Committee made a number of recommendations so the same wouldn't happen again. So, the Digital Transformation Agency has been handed a cheque for $10.4M to set up the Cyber Security Advisory Office (CSAO).
The aim is to "provide strengthened central governance and assurance for cybersecurity and broader project vulnerability across government".
#2 Bitcoin only gets taxed once
At the start of the new financial year, bitcoin transactions won't be slugged with GST twice.
In 2014, the tax office decided that GST would be charged when the goods or service were provided, and for the supply of the digital currency. But a more recent ruling deemed bitcoin was a form of currency and not what the tax office called an "intangible property".
I'm not a tax expert but not getting taxed twice on one transaction makes sense to me.
#3 Biometrics get some cash
One thing that's clear from the budget is security is an area the government is keen to invest in. The storage and management of biometric data will get a boost with the Minister for Charisma, I mean Immigration, Peter Dutton saying in a statement that the new systems "will allow more efficient detection of individuals of a security, law enforcement, or immigration interest while simultaneously speeding up the flow of legitimate travellers" While I'm sure that warms the cockles of our hearts, a few million to make clearing customs at Melbourne and Sydney airports faster wouldn't go astray!
#4 Data 61 gets a hot cash injection
While the exact amount is uncertain, more funding for Data 61 is a good thing. I've had the opportunity to see some of the work coming from the researchers, particularly in the area of information security, and they are getting some excellent results.
After seeing the tumultuous changes that research organisations were hit with over the last few years, it's good to see the money flowing back in.
#5 Our data gets more personal and portable
I could have split this into two items but they kind of fit together. The government has directed banks to make information sharing easier so individuals and businesses have more control over their transaction history. The idea is that if we have more control over our banking data, then we can move easily between banks, therefore driving increased competition.
A lazy $374M and change is being funnelled into giving every man. woman and child in our wide brown land an electronic heath record. The shift from an opt-in to an opt-out system expands the My Health Record system with the finds to be delivered over the next couple of years.
A bunch of other initiatives were also announced with $12M for in-train WiFi coverage, $67.3M to overhaul the Medicare payments system, $315M for the replacement of Centrelink's core IT and $30 for STEM education in rural areas.