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Myki remains as Vic Govt spares IT

The Victorian Government will retain the myki public transport smart card system, despite cost blowouts and failure to satisfy commuters.

In presenting the 2011-2012 state budget Tuesday afternoon, Treasurer Kim Wells said the myki project, along with failed initiatives HealthSMART and the Regional Rail Link, contributed to $2 billion in cost over-runs from the state government. The smart card system itself faced a three-year delay in introduction to the state's public transport system and is expected to have cost $1.4 billion alone.

The Liberal Government has explored options for both the ailing HealthSMART initiative and myki but is yet to announce significant measures for either. An announcement on the future of the transport smartcard system was expected in February, but the government instituted another review into the project instead.

The government has so far been unsure as to whether discontinuing the project would cause another blow to state taxpayers.

The only mention of the project in the current budget was to detail the cost blow-outs of the project, currently at $890 million in operational budget on top of the $461 million capital cost.

The customer satisfaction rate of Victorian commuters, last year rated at seven out of ten, was upgrade in the budget to become a percentile figure but no target was set in the budget.

Wells used the failed projects of the previous government as examples of the challenges faced in the budget put forward this week.

"They need to be addressed," he said in parliament.

"To do this requires steady effort over time -- working every day to build a stronger budget position, one which is capable of funding necessary services and investing in new infrastructure without relying on excessive debt."

Scant IT expenditure in financial year

IT expenditure as a whole was scant in the budget, which largely reaffirmed the government's election commitments. This included a $5 million pledge over four years to institute GPS systems for tracking repeat arsonists and sex offenders.

The initiative was first announced last October by Liberal leader, Ted Baillieu, but at the time was criticised by the Law Institute of Victoria which question whether the initiative would have any impact on curbing the number of deliberately lit bushfires and would breach the rights of the potentially innocent.

"It's a gross extension of a monitoring system for people who have not been found guilty of any criminal offence and are entitled to the presumption of innocence, and we think that's an unwarranted extension of the monitoring system," institute president, Steve Stevens, said.

Other IT commitments in the 2011-2012 budget included $23.9 million for new patient administration and clinical software systems at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, and $8.2 million for VicTrack to optimise its WAN, and build fibre optic cable and unified communications platforms.

Follow James Hutchinson on Twitter: @j_hutch

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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