Tuesday 23 June 2009
Legislative Council
Estimates Committee B  (David Bartlett)

3.4 Information systems management -

Mr FINCH - Again there is an increase here.  I assume it will be a similar explanation to the one we had before, so I won't pursue that.  Can you just talk about the business activities that have led to an increase in this area?

Ms BURTON - Yes.  Once again this is off-budget, so these are services provided by TMD to the rest of government and the increases relate principally to increased software costs.  All the services you use when you use your computer are underpinned by a whole range of different software applications.  For example, Oracle software costs have increased significantly; VMware, which the Premier would be much better at describing than I am, is about making more efficient use of servers; and Suffix, which is another software application.  Those costs have increased, and also increases in depreciation have occurred under this item and also there has been a reallocation of costs from 3.3 to 3.4.  The business activities are really about the increasing costs and also the revenue comes in from government agencies, so it is balanced.  There is no impact on the Consolidated Fund.

Mr FINCH - You were talking before about the technology in respect of camera being used and videoconferencing.  Tell me the part that Skype might play in this.

Mr BARTLETT - This is an excellent question.  Effectively what we were talking about there is a proprietary bit of software and a camera that is used internally with particular security bits.  Skype of course is free off the Internet and can be used if you have a camera on your TV.  I think it will be really significant when all the mums and dads in Tasmania work out how transitive the National Broadband Network is as they will when they realise that they can have free phone calls, free Skype calls, free videoconferencing calls out of their living rooms and so on.  I know that my kids, for example, Skype with their Nanna in Launceston.  That will happen more and more and it will transform people's lives. More particularly because of the costs associated with them.

Mr FINCH - Another question in respect of employees in this division in this area.  What sort of numbers are we looking at, and will there be challenges there in respect of reducing the numbers?

Mr BARTLETT - In TMD TASINET phone services is 54.9 FTEs, and in TMD Computing Services 25.5.  I think the short answer is yes, there will be efficiencies required in those areas and yes, they may be through voluntary redundancy, early retirement or vacancy control.

Mr FINCH - Just on that point: we are looking at a reduction of 800 people, but are we going to have a report from government on that about how that situation is tracking?

Mr BARTLETT - Yes, you will get a full report on it because in the mid-year financial report we will have to clearly show how we are tracking against those savings.