Election 2017 – How does the Green Party’s ICT policy stack up?

Photo courtesy of Electoral Commission
In May this year, 18 tech sector groups released an Election Manifesto, outlining a series of recommendations for the next New Zealand government. The Foresyte Report has condensed the 22-page manifesto into 10 key areas and has assessed the Green Party on how its ICT policies stack up.

Green Party spokesperson Gareth Hughes has been on the tech beat for some time, so maybe that’s why the party’s ICT policy was last updated in March 2015. At eight pages, it’s a fulsome document, but some of the issues it addresses are not – arguably – as burning today (eg copyright) as they were two years ago. That said, there are many policies that will fit well with the tech sector’s May manifesto.

Affordability of access is the main point of the policies concerning Connectivity, including community-based ideas to dealing with the digital divide such as technology hubs in schools and public libraries. The Green Party would also set standards that include the cost of internet access, as well as internet speeds. As affordability is specifically highlighted by the tech sector’s manifesto then the Green Party gets a point.

The party also earns a point for Training, as it notes that it will “include ICT in our apprenticeship scheme and encourage IT companies to develop their own apprenticeship/internship schemes, investing in staff development at home rather than buying it from overseas.”

As for the Economy, there has got to be half a point to the Green Party for advocating for a “NZ centre of excellence in key ICT nodes overseas” to be established, and support be given to NZ developers to visit these clusters to gain experience. Even if the Party doesn’t explain what it means by a “node”. And another half a point for a thoughtful section on ICT security, which includes the commitment to “develop regulations requiring ICT vendors to disclose security weaknesses in their products in a timely manner so users can take remedial action.”

The Green Party is all over Procurement, with references to it in at least four sections, including the statement “the government, as a large purchaser of ICT services, should support the development of our industry by purchasing locally produced products where possible”. There is also plenty of discussion about the need for open standards. Definite point for the Green Party here.

And a point too for Privacy, because the Green Party devotes an entire section to this incredibly important topic, which is written in the spirit of the tech sector’s manifesto.

The areas Education, Immigration, Cybersecurity, R&D, and a Ministry for Future, are either not explored, or the ideas do not reflect those of the tech sector’s manifesto. Therefore the Green Party scores 5/10.

10 key areas outlined in New Zealand’s Digital Future 2017 Manifesto:

  1. Education – support Digital Technologies up to Year 10, encourage schools to offer the subject as NCEA Levels 11-13, address teacher shortage in this area.
  2. Training – develop and train government and private sector workers in digital competency.
  3. Immigration – robust assessment (and encouragement) of migrants with ICT skills and qualifications.
  4. Connectivity – improve affordability as well as accessibility of high-speed connectivity.
  5. Economy – support “clusters of small firms” to grow digital exports, continue to develop privacy and regulatory frameworks and evaluate international competitiveness regarding incentives for Foreign Direct Investment.
  6. Cybersecurity – better education for SMEs in cybersecurity and boost CERT capability.
  7. R&D – review research funding through vehicles such as Marsden Fund and Callaghan Innovation, introduce incentives (eg R&D tax credits).
  8. Procurement – greater transparency over large contracts, and break down large contracts into smaller components. Also, mandate the adoption of open standards.
  9. Privacy – amend legislation to include mandatory reporting of significant privacy breaches. Ensure policy makers recognise social responsibility to protect public from harm.
  10. Ministry for the Future – create a new Ministry based on recommendations made up of experts from outside government and appoint an independent Chief Technology Officer to be the MoF’s CEO.

Organisations that contributed to ‘New Zealand’s Digital Future 2017 Manifesto’ are: NZ Tech, InternetNZ, IT Professionals NZ, Tuanz, NZRise, NZ Software Association, Canterbury Tech, FinTech NZ, HealthIT NZ, Health Informatics New Zealand, Open Source Society, Project Management Institute of NZ, itSMFnz, Test Professionals Network, Game Developers Association, Pecision Ag Association, AI Forum, VR/AR Association.

NOTE: this is an independent assessment of the tech sector’s Manifesto and the party policies. Feel free to provide feedback via comments below or email info@foresytereport.com .



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