NSW budget underpins a tech-led recovery plan


Denham Sadler
Senior Reporter

The New South Wales government has set aside $240 million to improve cybersecurity in the state’s public sector in this year’s budget, which also revealed that a security breach at ServiceNSW earlier this year is expected to cost $7 million.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet unveiled the state budget on Tuesday, with an already announced $1.6 billion cash injection to the Digital Restart Fund as the “centrepiece”. The budget provided more detail on where this funding is going, with $500 million to be spent in 2020-21 in areas including education and government services.

The state set aside $240 million over the next three years for a range of cybersecurity initiatives, including $60 million for Cyber Security NSW to launch a centralised government response to incidents and to proactively manage cybersecurity threats.

Cyber Security Maturity, a program overseen by the NSW Chief Cyber Security Officer from the Department of Customer Service, will also get $60 million over three years.

Sydney
Sydney calling: The NSW government has confirmed its digital-led recovery in the state budget

Buried much further in the budget was the revelation that the NSW government expects that the Service NSW data breach from earlier this year, which saw the personal data of 186,000 customers and staff leaked, is estimated to have cost the government $7 million.

“In April 2020, Service NSW alerted police and authorities to a cyber-attack that has potentially compromised customer information. Investigations into this matter are still ongoing however, Service NSW is expected to incur legal and investigation costs of approximately $7 million,” the budget papers said.

The hack was the result of 47 employees at Service NSW having their email accounts compromised, with 736Gb of data exposed to the unknown attackers, belonging to 186,000 people.

In terms of government-wide digital investments, $500 million will be spent in the current financial year, with $550 million set aside each for the next two years, through the Digital Restart Fund.

The fund was first launched in last year’s budget with $100 million in seed funding.

The new funding includes $365.8 million over two years to integrate digital technology into the school curriculum and infrastructure, and $54.5 million over three news going towards new technologies to improve the efficiency and productivity of the state’s courts and tribunals.

A further $45.8 million from the fund will be going towards implementing the next phase of end-to-end digital planning through ePlanning.

In other budget funding, $217 million has been allocated over four years for the Critical Communications Enhancement Project, which will provide for better access to public safety standard radio communications for first responders and essential emergency services.

More than $15 million will be going towards major projects in key precincts, including the development of Atlassian’s head office at Tech Central and the new Sydney University campus at the Westmead Health and Innovation District.

There will be $200 million over four years going towards Service NSW and increasing the number of services offered through its platform.

“The app has been a game-changer for customers, allowing them to complete multiple transactions in the palm of their hand. Customers can already use the app to download a Digital Driver Licence, renew vehicle registration and check-in to a COVID Safe venue,” customer service minister Victor Dominello said.

“We currently have around two million active Service app users. Our aim is to significantly increase the app’s functionality to make dealing with government seamless. We want customers to enjoy a Tell Us Once experience right across government. We will focus on reducing pain points and duplication in relation to life journeys, including having a baby, enrolling a child in school, or losing a loved one.”

The state government has also committed $180 million to its Global NSW Strategy, which is aiming to attract overseas businesses and grow innovation precincts in “industries of the future”, including advanced manufacturing, defence, medtech and space.

“Stimulating new business investment, fostering innovation and enhancing our competitiveness in global markets is the heart of our plan to set our state up for a dynamic recovery,” jobs and investment minister Stuart Ayres said.

“Growing vibrant precincts for technology and healthcare supported by leading universities, research institutions and businesses will enable the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive in NSW.”

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