RealTime IT News

GST Sites Score as Users Scour Tax Info

[Sydney, AUSTRALIA] The introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has driven record figures for Australian home Internet use, with more people going online to seek information on the new tax system.

New figures from Internet audience measurement service Nielsen//NetRatings indicate more than 3.9 million Australians surfed the Net from home in June, up more than 30 percent since March.

The Australian Tax Office attracted record traffic according to NetRatings figures, with a unique audience of 187,273. Sites for software companies such as MYOB also recorded traffic increases, with 41,245 unique visitors.

The June 30, and then July 15, private health cover deadlines also sent Australians to the Internet for information and services. Private health insurer Medibank received 58,245 unique visitors, while the Federal Government's health site, health.gov.au, recorded 52,124 unique visitors, according to NetRatings' figures.

While the number of people using the Internet has increased, the NetRatings research showed that the number of sessions per user has dropped from 14 sessions in March to 11 in June.

ACNielsen eRatings.com director of sales and marketing, Mark Henning, saw this statistic as an indication that Internet users are "beginning to fine tune their surfing behavior." "Our experience in overseas markets shows us that users tend to surf a smaller repertoire of sites as they become familiar with Net."

As Nielsen//NetRatings' research is drawn from a panel of users, the company has also drawn some demographic data from its latest figures. According to the research, 53.45 percent of men accessed the Internet compared with 46.55 percent of women, and the 35-49 age group was the largest demographic of users.

NetRatings' research comes as the National Office for the Information Economy released its Current State of Play report on Australian Internet use.

According to this report, 82 percent of 12-24 year olds accessed the Internet to April 2000, while 740,000 Australian adults shopped online in the year to February 2000.

The Federal Government will also likely be encouraged by the report's figures on home Internet access growth in more regional areas of Australia. Over the past two years, there has been a 164 percent increase in the number of houses in non-metropolitan areas with Internet access, outpacing the still growing figure in metropolitan areas of 109 percent.

Federal Government schemes such as Networking the Nation have sought to close the information divide between urban and non-urban Australians, by funding projects that are seeking to bring communities and business online.