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Show us your policy: The Green Party

Gareth Hughes, Guest post. 07 August 2017, 7:28 am
Show us your policy: The Green Party

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.

First out of the blocks, The Green Party's Gareth Hughes.

Technology is at the heart of the smart, green economy that New Zealand could develop. We're already on the way there. But more government leadership is needed if we're to embrace the economic opportunities of the coming decades, at the same time as we shift our economy to protect ourselves against the threat of climate change.

I'm proud that the Green Party has long recognised the potential of the tech sector in New Zealand. Last election, we launched a policy to support the gaming sector by extending the types of government support for film and TV production to gaming. The international gaming market is worth over US $100 billion, more than film or music, and with a bit more leadership New Zealand could be getting a significant chunk of that. There's a limit to how many cows we can cram onto our paddocks (a limit we have already exceeded in some parts of the country) but there's no limit to creativity and software exports.

There are huge opportunities in clean energy. Earlier this year, I launched the Green Party's plan to generate 100% of New Zealand's electricity from renewable sources by 2030. My hope is that along the way, we can become world renowned clean energy experts. Energy systems are becoming much more complex, with distributed generation like solar, batteries, and electric cars. The people who invent and design the software that knits future energy systems together will be invaluable. Our goal should be to support innovative Kiwis to develop applications for energy management that are as disruptive and game changing as Xero has been for accounting.

Underlying the smart, green economy is connectivity. New Zealand is getting better at that, though there's certainly still room for improvement, especially in rural areas. If I'd been in charge we would probably have done Ultrafast Broadband and the Rural Broadband Initiative a bit differently, but I'm not proposing that we should stop and start over again. For example, I think there could have been room for more local companies to provide innovative broadband solutions in rural and remote communities. Looking forward, my focus would be on speeding up the delivery of faster broadband, getting wait times for UFB connections down, and increasing resilience with our international connectivity.

I am also committed to closing the digital divide. National has been slow to act in this area. Government departments seem willing but uncoordinated. They need leadership. We talk now about how young people can't get jobs because they don't have a drivers' licence - pretty soon not being computer literate will be a bigger problem. There are lots of community groups doing great work in disadvantaged communities. Maybe we just need to resource them better to scale up.

So what would New Zealand look like with a Green Government? You wake up in your warm, dry home, with the sun beginning to hit your rooftop solar panels. Your kids go off to school on their bikes, safely, thanks to new safe cycling infrastructure around schools. You jump on a bus or train to work (they come every 10 minutes now). Work is busy - your boss is hiring more staff, thanks to support from the new Minister for Manufacturing who has championed high-tech exports. After work, you meet an old friend for a quick drink and hear how they've just bought their first home in Auckland - for less than half a million dollars. On the weekend, you grab an electric car from your neighbourhood car share and drive out of the city, where your kids are excited to swim in a clean river. On the way home, they continue teaching themselves to code on their iPads in the back seat.

It might not sound so different to how things are now - but for too many New Zealanders this sounds like a fantasy. It doesn't have to be that way. We can build a stronger, more resilient economy that exports clean technology to the world and raises living standards at home. An economy that works for everyone. The Green Party has got what it takes to create a great big future for our great little country.

Gareth Hughes is the ICT spokesperson for the Green Party.


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