by Jennifer O'Brien

Queensland Budget puts ICT works on the agenda

Jun 15, 2016
Technology Industry

The Queensland Government has allocated funds for a number of IT projects across various agencies and departments, including health and emergency services, considered key technology plans outlined in the state’s 2016-2017 Budget.

Treasurer Curtis Pitt, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships and Minister for Sport, delivered the state’s budget, which focuses on growing innovation, attracting investment, and building infrastructure.

“This budget addresses both the challenges and opportunities facing our state. It is an economic plan that advances Queensland by investing in the future,” Pitt said. “It is an economic plan to kick start new industries and create new jobs, while building on our strengths in agriculture, tourism and resources.”

Some of the ICT projects include technology upgrades to improve fire and emergency service delivery across Queensland.

Frontline fire and emergency services are a key focus of the 2016-17 State Budget, said Minister for Police Fire and Emergency Services, Bill Byrne. “We have allocated $74 million for the 2016-17 financial year for facilities, appliances and communications equipment,” Byrne said.

“A total of $5.6 million will be spent starting work on replacement auxiliary fire and rescue stations at Childers, Gordonvale, Oakey, Rainbow Beach and Tara, and extending the auxiliary fire and rescue station at Thursday Island.”

On the police front, Byrne said the budget has allocated $98.9 million to upgrade Queensland Police Service (QPS) facilities, information and communication equipment.

The funding includes: $21.6 million for major plant and equipment; $3 million to commence construction of the new co-located Road Policing Unit and Special Emergency Response Team facility in Cairns; $6.1 million to replace Gordonvale and Caboolture police stations and upgrade Bowen police station; and $32 million for new and replacement police service vehicles.

It also includes $12 million for information and communication technology initiatives; $4.3 million over four years as part of the Camera Detected Offence Program to install additional fixed, point-to-point and mobile digital speed cameras; and $5.3 million to maintain both police helicopters to service south-east Queensland

Meanwhile, on the health front, the budget has earmarked $15.3 billion, with the bulk of the money ($12.6 billion) going to the majority of the states’ 16 hospital and health services, Mater Health Services and Saint Vincent’s Health Australia.

“The big increase is to the hospital and health services, which deliver the health services on the ground throughout Queensland. This year’s funding increase will mean more people will be treated in the health system and more staff will be employed,” according to Health and Ambulance Services Minister Cameron Dick, who said the priority is on delivering “frontline services.”

The health budget also includes $230 million to fund significant health infrastructure upgrades around the state, while a further $170 million to be spent on upgrades to critical ICT infrastructure.

According to budget papers, the health funding will go towards the “continued state-wide roll out of clinical and administrative support systems and technology equipment replacement.”

“These systems will ensure the right information and technology is available to the right people at the right time in line with emerging technologies and will ensure the sustainability of eHealth service delivery.”

Meanwhile, on the infrastructure front, the government will invest $634 million over the next eight years to fund a rail signalling system – a critical first step to building Queensland’s number-one infrastructure project, Cross River Rail, according to premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Palaszczuk said the investment in a new European Train Control System (ETCS) would lay the foundation for the delivery of Cross River Rail and would improve rail capacity and safety in the inner city rail network.

In unveiling the news, Treasurer Pitt said ETCS will completely “modernise the inner-city rail network, with state-of- the-art technology set to increase capacity, maximise rail safety and allow us to safely run trains closer together.”

Minister for Transport Stirling Hinchliffe said the signalling technology will support safety through the inner-city, by providing an automatic braking system, ensuring a safe distance between trains and allowing them to travel closer together.

On the jobs and innovation front, the latest budget – and injection of $225 million as part of the Accelerating Advance Queensland – builds on the $180 million investment in the 2015-16 Budget as part of Advance Australia, which aims to grow Queensland’s innovation sector by inspiring the next generation of Queenslanders and creating the jobs of the future.

Some of the funds allocated include: $22.7 million for small business innovation; $10 million to develop new platform technologies for business in areas like drones and big data; $6 million for regional innovation hubs; and $10 million for Cairns innovation centre at James Cook University to focus on innovation, commercialisation and entrepreneurship.

Accelerating Advance Queensland also means accelerating health innovation, according to Treasurer Pitt.

He said $35 million is provided in this Budget for the Integrated Healthcare Fund to support new ideas that better integrate care and address the fragmentation in services.

“The aim is to achieve greater efficiency and value for Queensland’s health system. A further $25 million will be spent to establish a Clinical Genomics Service. This will help Queensland stay at the forefront of research in the field of human genomics,” Pitt said in the budget papers.