Emerging Technology

Health, IT and construction sectors to win from Rudd Government’s $15.1 billion spending plan

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The health, computer and construction industries will benefit most from the Rudd Government’s five-year $15.1 billion spending plan.

The health, computer and construction industries will benefit most from the Rudd Government’s five-year $15.1 billion spending plan.

The plan is expected to create 133,000 new jobs and has a “strong emphasis on reviving our flagging productivity growth, especially in education and infrastructure,” according to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Construction firms will likely benefit from an extra $200 million provided for social housing. Jim Barrett, Australian Industry Group associate head of construction and infrastructure, says any new spending is “absolutely” welcomed.

“It’s things like this and the $300 million local spending plan – all those projects provide an important stimulus. The construction industry also stimulates movement in the manufacturing sector,” he says.

“The flow-on effect of a stimulus to infrastructure spending is spread across the economy. It’s a big employer; a lot of the input costs are generated from manufacturing and significant employment.”

A short-term infrastructure spending plan from the Building Australia Fund is set to be confirmed early next month.

The education industry will receive a $3.5 billion payment over five years, including $807 million for the computers in schools program.

Australian Computer Society chief executive Kim Denham says while some more funding is appreciated, new national projects should also be considered.

“The ACS is interested to see further initiatives developed, which go beyond purely providing students and teachers with the technological hardware.

“This should focus on improving ICT literacy, utilising the national broadband network and ICT curriculum and teaching resources.”

The plan also includes $7.8 billion for health programs and public hospitals, which will include a payment of $750 million this year for emergency room visitations. The assistance also includes $448 million over four years for preventive health, and $1.8 billion over the full five years to train 212 new GPs, 73 specialists, 18,000 nurse supervisors and 7000 medical supervisors.

Paul Hoffman, founder of recruiting site healthcareer.com.au, says health recruiters can stand to benefit from the increased spending – but it’ll be a tough sell.

“I don’t think it will have too much of an impact. It’s great to have new placements, but there has to be new education at the grass roots level about the health industry.”

Many of the profession’s vacancies are located in rural areas, Hoffman says, and newly trained nurses and health professionals are often reluctant to move outside of the city. He claims some jobs in rural areas have been left vacant for up to a year.

“Making jobs is great, but perhaps [the Government] should be looking at strategies to fill those jobs.”

The new spending will bring the budget close to deficit, as the surplus has now been slashed from a plump $20 billion to $1.9 billion. The Government has spent $10.4 billion on the upcoming stimulus package, along with $6.2 billion for the automotive industry.

But despite the slim figure, Rudd maintains the budget will stay in the black. “In terms of our ability to fund these agreements with the Commonwealth, we can do so still while maintaining a modest surplus,” he says.

“It’ll be a tough year in 2009 for all of us, but there’s a good resolve among us that we intend to hunker down together and work together,” he says.

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