In the last gasp before the elections on Saturday this blog is purely my opinion on the now stated ICT policies that the political parties have released. The landscape shows that even our strongest party is struggling to grapple with ICT in a world that is changing while the left demonstrates their knowledge admirably. Other parties are either dinosaurs that don’t get it at all or a mess of messages and sideshow antics that are meaningless.
So from the top in alphabetical order we will look at the parties that are currently in parliament followed by those that aren’t and would sell their own mother to get a fancy green leather chair. Those with no policies are relegated to the dinosaur section below. I haven’t looked at any of their other policies and I am non-partisan. No one buys my opinion in other words. The examples are just that, examples, if I had to reproduce the ICT policy here I’d need tens of thousands of words. You’ll find links to stuff embedded where appropriate.
ACT has no ICT policy and passes this off by basically saying that they don’t interfere in the market. They have responded to some questions as part of the NZRise Political Survey . However, their policy in my opinion shows the older nature of the Party and a lack of understanding about the potential of the ICT Industry for New Zealand. This is the party you vote for if you are an angry granddad I suspect.
On the flip side of ACT, we have the Greens. Cogent, well thought out, clever ICT policies that recognise that the industry could rival that of milk and butter (it certainly will if dairy prices keep falling). They recognise the current problem areas and have policy to address them. The Greens are losing their lunatic left fringe slowly and the ICT policy shows a very good understanding of ICT. They have a strong push on “open”everything.
By far and away the leader in the ICT policy stakes is Labour. Labour raises the ICT Industry to match that of the other primary industries and exporters in New Zealand. They take the Government Chief Information Officer out of the Department of Internal Affairs and have that role expanded as well as report directly to the Prime Minister and Cabinet. They also plan the introduction of 1,200 ICT apprenticeships. It is unfortunate that Labour is such a fractured party, I wonder if they did get in exactly how much they could effectively get done given the various competing groups that make up the overall party. But still, a great policy.
Coming really late to the election the National Party Policy is an eclectic piece of documentation. It simply looks like National didn’t prioritise this as a policy at all and it’s only been the banging on of lobby groups, journalists, and bloggers that have forced them into publishing something. The policy itself is somewhat self-congratulatory listing things they think they have achieved (advertising) rather than what they are going to do (policy). But let’s take a closer look, because it is only recently released.
The unrelenting snail of the UFB programme rolls on with promises to make it more deeply penetrating. The “pass by fibre” project (that’s how they report progress, not by connection, but by the number of places the fibre passes by) is to continue. The only other newish policy is expanding into rural broadband.
That’s it really. There are only two policies, if you could call them that. Other elements of the “policy” show the old thinking that is still in place (111 gets lumped into ICT Policy as an example).
New Zealand First
Believe it or not, New Zealand First has a fairly well-rounded set of policies. These aren’t going to set the world on fire, however show that someone in the party has got their head screwed on when it comes to basic ICT. One thing that set off some minor alarm bells is the policy to add extra protection for users of the Internet. Smells like an upgrade to the Censorship Wall that DIA runs.
The Civilian Party
Has one ICT Policy: “Bring ultra-fast broadband access to the majority of rural New Zealand by 2016 and dial-up to Invercargill by 2017.”
The Internet Party
For me personally the great disappointment of all the ICT policies. A party that started with some great ideas and has allowed itself to become more of a sideshow to the great Dotcom circus travelling the country. Originally touted as the technology party, they have managed to disappear down so many weird rabbit holes that they are starting to look like Alice in Wonderland. On top of that, they have a tendency with the media and commentators to play the man and not the ball, a sure sign of a lack of maturity and a big dose of “dog brain.” Worse, the infighting that has become apparent between Internet and Mana is a sure sign of things to come. This is coat tailing on an organised level at best. Even if they get in, their capability to do anything is likely to be very very small. It’s a real shame, they started so strongly, but the journey has mutated them into some kind of hybrid Frankenstein of the left, center, right, funded by an external source with an axe to grind with government.
But let’s look at the ICT policy side shall we?
One of the areas that they want to dump $1,000,000,000 into is innovation hubs, sadly, run by universities. Now, no disrespect to academia, but they are slow, becoming redundant, and not really keeping up with technology. So why put them in charge? Globally, these innovation hubs are facilitated by a city itself or a free forming group of creatives.
The cheaper and universal internet is a policy that is well covered by National, the Greens, and Labour. Nothing new here at all.
The copyright, open research, and government reformation ICT policies are all already happening or are part of other parties policies.
Finally, the anti-spying policies, if you could call them that, are probably unworkable. New Zealand will never leave the Five Eyes arrangement, we have been part of it for decades, and it is not going anywhere. A better policy would have been arming people to protect their own privacy.
Just my opinion, of course.
- Mana Party
- The Maori Party
- United Future – Has an “ICT Policy” that isn’t about ICT at all
- The Alliance Party
- Ban 1080
- The Conservative Party
- The Democrats (Their website is broken)
- Focus New Zealand
- New Zealand Independent Coalition
- Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis