Oz Budget 2018: Cash for 3cm GPS resolution, federated IDs, payments reform and blockchain

Plus a new limit of $10,000 on cash payments for anything - and cheaper craft beer!

Australia’s government has tabled its proposed budget for financial year 2018/19 and as usual there’s lots of technology-related spending to contemplate.

Welfare payments agency Centrelink gets AU$316.2m to spend over the next four years on the third tranche of its Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation project. The Department of Veterans’ affairs will have $111.9m to spend on a “digital front door” for former members of the armed forces. There’s also $106.8m “to modernise the health and aged care payments system”.

$92.4m will be spent in 18/19 on “GovPass”, described as “a new digital identity solution for accessing government Services” that will mean “Individuals will be able to prove their identity to a government agency or accredited non-government organisation, and then re-use this proven identity when accessing other government services.”

The Digital Transformation Agency has been told to “investigate areas where blockchain technology could offer the most value for Government services”, with $700,000 to help things along.

Virtual fences

The Industry Department has found “over $260m” to improve GPS resolution to 3cm, compared to the current 10 metres, with a Satellite-Based Augmentation System and a National Positioning Infrastructure Capability. The former will deliver 5cm resolution across all of Australia and its maritime zones. The latter will get close to 3cm resolution “in areas of Australia with access to mobile coverage” (which Vulture South’s Richard Chirgwin thinks will enable autonomous vehicles).

A measure that will put some extra stress on technology systems is a ban on cash purchases over $10,000. The measure was billed as helping to “stamp out opportunities for criminals to launder the proceeds of crime into goods and services, or for businesses to hide transactions to reduce their tax liabilities.” Other nations already have lower limits on cash purchases.

Other measures include:

  • The establishment of a National Criminal Intelligence System;
  • $36m to upgrade IT at the department of home affairs;
  • More money to help the Bureau of Meteorology improve its IT, but the government won’t say how much as it reckons the spend is commercial in confidence;
  • Australia’s infant space agency has won $41m of funding over four years;
  • Ongoing crackdown on multinational tax avoidance;
  • Nearly $17m to advance e-prescribing of medicines.

The budget’s full revenue and expenditure measures are all listed in this riveting 205-page document (PDF) with that file and lots more here in case we haven’t satisfied your lust for information on how Australia plans to spend taxpayers’ money next financial year. ®

Bootnote: Australia's budget also reduced its beer tax. The nation previously taxed kegs containing between eight and 48 litres at a higher rate than larger kegs. As small brewers tend to favour smaller kegs, craft brewers were effectively taxed more than big daddy brewers.

Kegs of all size now attract the same tax rate, reversing a terrible, terrible injustice.

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