In line with the new government's rhetoric, the phrase "working families" occurs 56 times in the budget documents. ;-)
QUALITY OF THE WEB PAGE
Each year from 1996 to 2006 the budget web site has got better. But by 2007-08 seems to have reached a stable design. The site is HTML 4.01 Transitional, as last year and has not been changed to XHTML, as used for newer web sites. The remaining CSS formatting which was embedded in the web page last year, which appeared to have been put in at the last minute to fix some problems, has been eliminated. The code is clean and efficient.
The home page passed an automated Level 1 accessibility test, and only failed Level 2 and Level 3 tests on six minor technical issues (but last year it only failed on four). The result is that the budget web page works with graphics turned off, for people who can't see images or have a very slow link. Even on a slow link with images it will be reasonably fast/. But as last year the images and the masthead image in particular are larger than they need be.
Last year I criticized the web site for having important tables in the overview as blurry little image files and the PDF versions as excessively large. The situation has not improved, with tables such as "Table 2.1: Total resources for outcome 1" being all but unreadable. The alternative text for this table is "Table 2.1: Total resources for outcome 1".
While this is sufficient to pass an automated test, these ALT tags fail a manual evaluation, resulting in the web site failing to meet both Australian Government guidelines for accessibility and HREOC recommendations. The ICT professionals responsible need to look to their ethical obligations to act in the public interest and to act lawfully.
IT IN THE BUDGET
Introduced in 2003, the budget web site has a useful search service, which as sped up since last year. Entering "Information Technology" took less than a second (eight seconds last year) to do a search at 8:05pm and returned 9 results (down from 26 last year). But last year almost all these references were to be in the name of the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (changed now to "Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy"). The careful research in the papers was shown by a reference to: Parham, D, Roberts, P and Sun, H 2001, Information Technology and Australia's Productivity Surge, Productivity Commission Staff Research Paper.
There are few major ICT initiatives in the budget and none not already known. Most of the major computer and telecommunications outlays are within projects, such as those for education.
SOME IT HIGHLIGHTS
Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Expense ($m) 2007‑08 2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 Australian Federal Police - 8.7 12.7 13.2 13.0 Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy - 7.3 32.5 6.6 4.9 Australian Communications and Media Authority - 5.5 3.0 2.8 2.8 Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions - 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.9 Total - 24.3 51.1 25.4 23.6 Related capital ($m) Australian Federal Police - 0.7 0.6 0.1 -
The Government will provide $125.8 million over four years to establish the Cyber‑safety Plan.
The Cyber‑safety Plan will provide a range of initiatives to combat online threats and protect children from inappropriate material on the internet, through activities such as an education program for teachers and the community, Internet Service Provider level filtering of an expanded Australian Communications and Media Authority blacklist, examination of options to allow families to exclude other unwanted content, a Youth Advisory Group to assist the Government to formulate age‑appropriate measures to protect children, an expanded Consultative Working Group focussed on cyber‑safety issues, a dedicated website for children and research projects on cyber‑safety issues.
From 2009‑10, Internet Service Providers will receive a one‑off subsidy towards the costs of installing Internet Service Providers filters. This funding will largely occur in 2009‑10 with funding in following years only for new providers.
This measure will continue funding for the Australian Federal Police and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for the investigation and prosecution relating to incidents of child sexual exploitation.
See also the related savings measure titled Protecting Australian Families Online in the Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy portfolio.
This measure delivers on the Government's election commitment.
National Broadband Network — establishment and implementation
Expense ($m) 2007‑08 2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy 2.1 5.2 0.4 0.5 0.5
The Government will provide $8.6 million over five years to the National Broadband Network policy. This is in addition to the reallocation of $1.8 million from the Australia Connected Expert Taskforce.
The funding will be used to develop and manage the competitive assessment process and to monitor the roll‑out of the National Broadband Network, including costs associated with the establishment of a panel of experts and specialist advisers for the conduct and assessment of the recently commenced Request for Proposals process.
See also the related expense measures titled National Broadband Network — roll‑out in the Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy portfolio.
This measure delivers on the Government's election commitment.
National Broadband Network — roll‑out
Expense ($m) 2007‑08 2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy - nfp nfp nfp nfp
The Government will provide up to $4.7 billion to build a high‑speed, open‑access, fibre‑based National Broadband Network. The new network will deliver minimum speeds of 12 megabits per second to 98 per cent of Australian homes and businesses.
The budget impact will be dependant on the outcome of the recently‑commenced Request for Proposals process. A provision for the National Broadband Network has therefore been included in the Contingency Reserve pending the determination of the successful proponent.
See also the related expense measure titled National Broadband Network — establishment and implementation in the Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy portfolio.
This measure delivers on the Government's election commitment. ...
Clever Networks — additional funding for connecting rural independent Victorian schools
Expense ($m) 2007‑08 2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy 1.7 3.5 - - -
The Government will provide $5.2 million over two years for a new aspect of the Clever Networks program, which will assist with the provision of a managed virtual private network for independent schools across rural and regional Victoria. This will help improve learning opportunities and outcomes for students and support the professional development of their teachers.
- Early childhood education
- Skills development and training
- Higher education
- Education Investment Fund
- Indigenous education
At odds to the "working families" rhetoric is a measure for Visa options for Superyachts crew: "The Government will provide $2.0 million over four years to implement a new tailored visa arrangement for the crews of superyachts. ..."
Comments on previous budgets: