Vic Govt IT boost

As part of the Bracks government's first state budget, the $22 million allocated for IT over the next four years will also support emerging IT&T industries; and improve the state's IT&T skills base.

Making up the $22 million are,

- $9 million for improving public Internet access, especially in regional and rural areas, and setting up of Government Net Access Centres;- $800,000 for a new Electronic Export Assistance Centre to assist potential exporters;- $1.3 million for the existing Victorian Ecommerce Early Movers assistance scheme which promotes ecommerce at a community level;- $3.5 million over three years to expand Skills.net, a community-based program that provides free or affordable Internet access and training. This will be especially targeted at people in remote locations; - $550,000 for the existing Go for IT traineeship program;- $2.5 million to extend the VicOne network to improve internal communication among government agencies; and- $5 million for Chipskills, an industry development program to support semiconductor related activities in Victoria.

Outside of the allocation to IT, the government has also committed $170 million, as part of the Regional Infrastructure Development Fund, to provide adequate telecommunications infrastructure in regional and rural areas.

The Bracks government has also pledged to build on existing initiatives such as the ICT Skills Taskforce; the International Trade Fairs and Missions Program which provides subsidies to Victorian companies expanding into overseas markets; and to attract IT related investments into Victoria.

Aside from the IT allocation, the state budget will also provide for business tax cuts totalling at least $400 million over the next four years. From July 2001, business taxes will be cut by $100 million, increasing to $200 million per year by July 2003.

"This cut will keep Victoria's taxes broadly in line with the national average and below New South Wales," said Steve Bracks, Victoria's premier. "Details of the business tax cuts will be determined following a review of Victoria's tax system, the first since 1983, which will report by the end of 2000."

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