Taking all of the above into account, it's hard to believe the figure $386 million that has been reported for the NSW computer in schools program. A figure of $600 million is more believable - and of course it will probably be even more than that the way things are going.
Now I'm the last person to be against our governments supporting the local IT industry and I know Australia is a rich country. However, is giving laptops away to every year 9 school kid really a sustainable program even in good economic times let alone today?
The other issue of course is that kids who get free computers courtesy of the taxpayers are kids who don't buy (or get their parents) to buy one from a computer store. That's just dandy for the PC retailers - hundreds of thousands of potential customers taken out of the market each year.
If Australian governments want to spend hundreds of millions on IT for the education sector that's wonderful. Spend it on the schools. Upgrade every single one of them so that they have the best equipped computer facilities in the world. Put a computer on the desk of each student, give them all USB memory sticks, have a computer lending program for underprivileged kids.
Giving away computers to hundreds of thousands of school kids each year while lining the pockets of a handful of already dominant vendors at taxpayer expense is not only economic madness, it's bad for the Australian IT industry. OLPC didn't work in the third world and this incarnation of it won't work in first world Australia.