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NSW razor broadly misses IT spending

The article below on by Brett Winterford on 11 November 2008 provides some background on the ATP sale decision as part of a broader look at the mini-budget's impact on IT spenbding.

NSW razor broadly misses IT spending

Technology spending within the NSW Government appears to have largely escaped the razor in today's mini-budget, despite a slew of other spending cuts announced by Treasurer Eric Roozendaal.

The only victim announced within the mini-budget is NSW Police, which will have $15 million stripped from its IT budget, despite the budget also allocating funds for a further 750 police officers.

Spending cuts were far more severe elsewhere as the Government moved to address its deficit. Sydney Harbour's JetCats were axed, higher tolls applied to the Harbour Bridge and Harbour Tunnel, while infrastructure projects such as the South West Rail and Pacific Highway upgrades were deferred.

The other major technology-related announcement as part of the mini-budget was a decision to privatise the Australian Technology Park in Redfern.

The ATP leases 13.9 hectares of prime industrial space within arms length of the Sydney CBD in an area formerly used as maintenance sheds for Sydney's railways. Under the state's new plan, the area will be leased to private investors for 99 years.

The 100-odd tenants at the technology park include IT research and commercialisation ventures National ICT Australia (NICTA) and the Smart Internet Cooperative Research Centre, the head office of Fuji Xerox Australia and News Limited-owned e-tailer Moshtix.

Broadcaster Channel Seven intends to move its new media production centre to the park in 2009. Some 1200 staff are employed within the bounds of the park.

"The Australian Technology Park at Redfern is a commercially operated business park that is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority," the state said in budget papers.

"Owning and operating a business park is not a core responsibility of government and there is no evidence of market failure. The property will be offered to the market by way of a 99-year lease. The site has development potential that can be better realised by the private sector."

A spokesperson for NICTA said the research organisation was on lease at the technology park until 2011 with two five-year options to run through to 2021, buffeting the organisation against any change in ownership of the park for some time yet.

The ATP recorded a profit of $11 million in 2006/07 fiscal year. Its board includes Lucy Turnbull, director of Melbourne IT and wife to federal Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull.

Source: NSW razor broadly misses IT spending