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Show us your policies

Ian Apperley, Guest post. 17 July 2017, 6:57 am
Show us your policies

The election is just a few weeks away there is a sad lack of technology policy being released. Given that the tech industry contributes to 8% of GDP, third only to Dairy and Tourism, you'd expect that by now, we'd be seeing some policy statements. 

I'm going to follow the policy statements over the next few weeks. To start with, here's what we know today. 

National puts their policy under infrastructure and a multi-page document reads more like a glossy sales brochure than giving insight to what they are planning. The second to last page says it all, keep doing UFB. That's fine, and necessary, however National is showing their age and stance by lumping all tech policy into that one item. 

It's better than Labour's policy, which I couldn't find. In the last election, they had a comprehensive plan under Clare Curran, now, it seems they have none. It's getting close to the wire to have not released a key policy plank and highly unusual for Labour who have, in the past, been highly active in this area. It may be a single of the general malaise the party seems to be suffering. 

The Greens have a well-rounded policy that emphasises the social investment side of technology, as you would expect. It reads well, a much simpler view than their last policy, which was excellent, however was very lengthy. 

New Zealand First shows its age by lumping technology policy in with Broadcasting, however, their policy statements around ICT are comprehensive and simple. Of particular interest is their policy statement that "New Zealand business are given the first opportunity for all Government ICT tenders before a foreign owned company. The work will go abroad if there is no New Zealand company offering the service."

ACT's David Seymour has been outspoken on technology issues over the last term showing perhaps the most in-depth knowledge of the industry, however the party has not yet formally released their policy. 

The Internet Party is back and obviously being a technology oriented party has a comprehensive set of policy. I do note that their policy on Dolphins seems to be missing. That could have appealed to Douglas Adams fans everywhere. 

As to the other minor parties nothing has yet surfaced. The industry is large now and faces a range of challenges and issues that are worth noting here, I'll be commenting on them in the coming weeks. 

The industry is relatively highly-regulated by government, particularly through the use of all of government contracts via the DIA and MBIE. Should it be?

There is a lack of a centralised approach to the sector with multiple agencies, lobby groups, and industry groups all vying for power. Should it be broken down and centralised?

High tax rates, my opinion, coupled with costly procurement processes and international companies that don't pay their fair share in tax may be stunting the growth of New Zealand technology companies. 

While the government themselves have shown some surprising leadership this term, such as the adoption and mandate of public Cloud services, agencies are often very slow to respond to these directives. Why?

The impact of automation needs to be understood and catered for. Right now, there is either not enough knowledge of its risks and opportunities or the government has its head in the sand. 

There's the education system and whether it is turning out what we need. Anecdotal evidence suggests it is not effective. 

R&D from a government perspective produces a very, very small return, and yet represents hundreds of millions of dollars of investment. Why is not performing?

Then there are other issues that aren't being actively planned for. Skills shortages, expensive project failures, the continued government control of citizen data, an unbalanced market, the glacially slow time it takes to change legislation, and most importantly, how technology unlocks productivity across New Zealand.

Ian Apperley is well known to many in the ICT industry as both participant and commentator and craft beer apologist.


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