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Show us your policy: Labour

Clare Curran, Guest Post. 22 August 2017, 2:59 pm
Show us your policy: Labour

Editor's note: We've asked the ICT spokespeople of all the major parties to comment on their policies in the lead up to the election. As they come in we'll publish them here.

Labour believes that New Zealand must aim for ICT to be our second-largest contributor to GDP by 2025. To achieve this goal, New Zealand has to lift its game and confront some significant barriers. These include barriers in education, in the way we treat contractors and in our investment in research and technology.

Specifically we need to:

  • Develop a comprehensive action plan for each major industry in New Zealand, to use technology more effectively.
  • Engage industry groups so that these plans are co-designed and are not seen as Government fiats or bureaucratic paperwork.
  • Focus on the least productive sectors, identified by the Productivity Commission  as including construction as well as several services industries (e.g. food, accommodation, professional services) .
  • Reach out to small business, advocating how they can survive technology disruption. Many industries have a large number of smaller operators who are often not ICT-savvy, see ICT as a cost item not a value driver, and are fearful of technology change.
  • Include, and even prioritise, the sectors where the Government is a major funder and/ or operator, such as health, education, housing, transport , justice and energy.

Labour's objective is a "joined-up" approach where Government is encouraging renewal of the New Zealand  economy using technology advances as the driver, while prioritising and enabling widespread, equitable usage of new technology for maximum community benefit.

Issues across the New Zealand tech landscape are challenging, exciting and disturbing.

Last year we released the Future of Work report which identified are the changing workforce due to fast changing technology. This is starting to hollow out middle end jobs and occupations such as accountancy, law, insurance, health while low-skill jobs increase, which in turn could see real incomes decline.

This means a critical role for innovation, science and research to harness the benefits of technology for the future of work. Morale in New Zealand's science and research community is low, but despite this, our technology sector is starting to flourish and become a large contributor to the New Zealand economy. It creates many jobs, and contributes to GDP and exports.

We need to move beyond business as usual and develop a strategy to support innovation and entrepreneurship through a rich innovation ecosystem. 

  • It should link strategic science to regional high-value clusters and sector centres of excellence;
  • align tax and investment incentives to support a high-value strategy;
  • attract and retain global and local talent;
  • ensure information and social infrastructure is sufficient and appropriate.

It will need to address social inclusion and the digital divide so that all citizens have their basic needs met and can participate in the information age.

There is growing digital inequality between the main centres and rural New Zealand and many people still experience poor or no connectivity. We have an education system which is overstretched and is failing to prepare our students and young people for the changing economy, which is already being impacted by disruptive technology. And we have a current government which has not done the work to address these problems, and who are not preparing us for the future.

Ensuring that every New Zealander has access to a quality lifelong learning has always been one of Labour's highest priorities. Labour will progressively introduce three years of free post-school education, allowing access to university, polytechnic or on-job training for young New Zealanders and those who have not studied before.

  • New Zealanders must have access to technology as a right, regardless of income or geography
  • A deliberate strategic approach is needed from the bottom-up and the top-down. The market will not bring digital equality. Government involvement is necessary
  • No communities or parts of society can be left behind
  • We need a holistic view. We have to consider the contribution of innovation to well-being, inclusion and mobility.
  • Access needs to be on demand, anywhere, anytime
  • An innovation and digital-inclusion strategy must link to a high-value economic strategy, involving sector-based, high-value clusters
  • The education system needs fundamental reform to its curriculum, teacher training, and a skills strategy.

In September New Zealander's have a choice to make about the kind of country they want to live in. This tech vision for New Zealand can be reality under Labour.

Clare Curran is the Labour Party spokesperson for ICT, Broadcasting. Open Government and Civil Defence, and the MP for Dunedin South. 

 


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