A half a billion dollar investment in health IT infrastructure is the centrepiece of the New South Wales government’s budget, which also included a cash injection for the state’s start-up sector.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet unveiled the budget on Tuesday afternoon, with an enviable surplus of $4.5 billion for the current financial year, along with a further forecasted surplus of $2.7 billion for next year.
“Our budget is working for us, not against us. We have surpluses now and into the future,” Perrottet said when delivering the budget.
“Our state is on a journey of growth and change. We are living through a time of transformation. It’s been said the future belongs to those who hear it coming. This government hears the future loud and clear. We are not waiting for it to come to us - we are acting now.”
Front and centre in the budget is a $536 million investment in eHealth, which marks the “most important revolution in modern healthcare”.
The package includes $286 million for Digital Patient Records, which will herald the phasing out of paper patient files, and $236 million for a Whole of System Digital Platform that will improve the digital infrastructure that supports clinical and other health-related systems in the state.
The budget also committed $14 million for the HealtheNet Pathology Results Repository and further funding to extend the state-wide rollout of the eMeds electronic medication management system.
Perrottet said the investment in the health digital transformation is all about improving the service offered by government and making things easier for the public.
“These funds will deliver health information and services more effectively and efficiently. The investment will provide value and safety to patients and practitioners, decrease costs by freeing up clinician time and improve the quality and portability of health care services,” Perrottet said.
The other major investment included in the budget for the state’s tech sector is a further $96 million in funding for Jobs for NSW to “continue to make funding available for businesses with high growth and high potential to create more jobs”.
Jobs for NSW has been the primary government vehicle driving its support for start-ups and tech firms, and the further funding includes the establishment of a $25 million co-investment fund with the private sector, which will make equity investments in growth companies, and $20 million for the Sydney Startup Hub to “foster collaboration and create jobs”.
“Our smaller and newer businesses often have challenges in accessing finance, so the NSW government continues to make funding available for businesses with high growth and high potential to create more jobs,” said John Barilaro, Minister for Small Business.
“We will continue to build on these strong foundations by providing tools to improve business skills and financial literacy, adopt new technologies, navigate red tape, access fair opportunities to win government contracts and be resilient for the future.”
The state government is investing $7.5 million into the Business Connect Program to provide business advisory service to entrepreneurs in NSW.
The budget also revealed that the government would be establishing a $6 million Jobs of Tomorrow STEM scholarships program, with $1000 grants on offer to assist students studying in a STEM-related field.
Other IT projects within government also received funding in the budget. Over the next two years, the government has committed $178 million to improve the communication services used by frontline agency staff, along with $8.5 million for the development of digital driver’s licences and $23 million over four years to “enhance and secure” the NSW Electoral Commission’s online management systems.