The Internet Party, too many lobby groups, and Hunter S Thompson

lightbulb“Politics is the art of controlling your environment.” – HST

New this week that the jolly German Kim Dotcom is launching an Internet Party in New Zealand. That’s about it so far. Well, it would have been except that Cameron Slate happened across a strategy paper for the party written by Martyn Bradbury. Unfortunately, the strategy is very light on detail, however we do know a few things.

  • The Internet Party will go after at least three seats and wants to be in a kingmaker position.
  • We can expect some kind of promise of fast and potentially free Internet. Possibly free wireless in parts of Auckland. Much is made of the economic benefit of this, which is a shame, given that Internet is simply an underlying (important) part of the infrastructure that drives New Zealand ICT Inc. That ICT market being far more important.

That’s it. So far. Not much of a manifesto at this point, you would certainly hope that any policy covered a lot more than just that. If it doesn’t then the Internet Party is likely to be relegated to the trash heap of wannabe political parties that have come and gone.

Some commentators have said that the party is likely to pick up the younger vote. I’m not so sure, I think you’ll find that the younger voters are more likely to support the Greens than Kim Dotcom. Unless…

“Government is supposed to serve us, the people. We are paying with our taxes [in the expectation] that they do a good job for us. But look what they do: they undermine our rights, they destroy our freedoms, they censor our internet. So we are the ones who have to bring that change.” – Source

Like it or not, Dotcom plugs into a younger psyche. One that is tech-savvy, generations away from the current politicians, and is annoyed about what they see as their freedoms being eroded. They may just pick up votes because of that, however, if they are seen to cynically manipulate that voting bloc then the party may have a short life.

“The kids are turned off from politics, they say. Most of ‘em don’t even want to hear about it. All they want to do these days is lie around on waterbeds and smoke that goddamn marrywanna… yeah, and just between you and me Fred thats probably all for the best.” – HST

The Dominion Post headline read “IT leaders wary of Dotcom” after they contacted a few of the lobby groups for comment:

‘The chief executive of the Institute for Information Technology Professionals, Paul Matthews, said the institute would also “prefer to stay out of this one”.

Candace Kinser, chief executive of the industry body NZICT, whose members include multinationals as well as locally owned firms, said it would be interesting to see its policies “that may work for or against the wider technology industry and the wider corporate industry as well”.’ – Source

OK, so its a bit unfair, but I actually expect our lobby groups, or industry groups as they prefer to be called, to actually get involved. Paul has a bit of a habit of “staying out of things” and Candice Kinser’s answer is almost a null statement. It says nothing.

That got me thinking, why do we have so many lobby groups and what are they actually doing for us? After all, its election year and the ICT Industry has a few short months to influence government policy. I know for a fact that the Labour Party are working on their ICT policies as we speak.

If I personally paid for membership of each group, I’d be up for about $1,000 a year. If I wanted to register my company with each, as a member, I’d be up for more than twice that cost, and we are a small company. Call me naive (go on, I dare you), but I expect a lobby group to do just that. Lobby.

That means getting out there, publicly, and getting on the bandwagon for the industry, and not just the industry in Auckland, the industry in New Zealand. We have a tonne of issues that we could do with help from government and we need to get those promoted now. Such as:

  • If the movie industry can get tax breaks, why can’t the ICT industry? We pull in billions a year. Given that we could rival the dairy industry at some point, if not grow past it, let’s get some incentives going for ICT companies. We’re sitting at a tipping point and a little push could cause it to fire.
  • Can we get rid of some of the red tape please. Our accounting has to be managed by my erstwhile wife (the CFO and Senior Manager of Expense Authorisation) because I can’t get my head around it. The tax by itself is a nightmare with different types, codes, dates, forward, backward, and variable amounts. It’s like trying to learn Latin. For business, red tape is really expensive, and come someone tell me why I am paying over $2,000 a year to ACC when I sit in a chair most of the day?
  • Upgrade. The. Infrastructure. We aren’t developing our bandwidth fast enough and it’s going to slow us down, if it isn’t already. While you’re at it, what about breaking some of the pseudo monopolies that are in place? Here’s looking at you international bandwidth and SKY TV.
  • Don’t tell us what to do, tell us how we can do it. Government ICT has dozens of extremely smart professionals who should be advising the industry on how to do something rather than telling us what to do. Particularly in central government.
  • Establish a Government ICT Agency. Having it spread all over the place at the moment and buried inside DIA is not working.
  • Give work to New Zealand ICT companies in preference to multinationals. Here is a hot tip. Hiring that global consulting firm to do your tax upgrade? That’s just throwing money overseas. All those guys are going to do is hire local talent and then sell them back to you at U.S. dollar rates. They are a brokerage, go direct.
  • Get close to the source. Just because your “officials” advise you doesn’t actually mean they have any idea what they are talking about. Usually what you see if filtered through a lengthy process that has the affect of removing any nutrition from an idea. Talk to industry directly.

So there you have it. Ideas. Ideas for an Internet Party and ideas for our lobbyists, whether they like that term or not. Regardless, this is a year for influence, we only get it every now and again, and its best to seize the opportunity with both hands. 

“So much for Objective Journalism. Don’t bother to look for it here — not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of.”- HST




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