bigstock-touch-pad-concept-31114436You would swear that with a handful of exceptions we live in a land of dinosaur luddites. With fifteen parties currently vying for government this year and only a few short weeks to voting, you’d expect that policy had been settled, published, and was being spammed as quick as their little hearts could advertise. Nothing much has changed since I looked at the ICT Policies a few months back and you have to wonder whether politicians get ICT at all.

New Zealand’s ICT industry is very likely to one day rival or exceed the dairy industry. Local companies are exporting overseas more and more while some government agencies are seen as centres of excellence for ICT services that they have developed (I said some). However, policy to support that industry is not that forthcoming from political parties, with a couple of exceptions. I went back and re-read political parties websites and news releases to see what the current state is. So in alphabetic order…

ACT 

Zero policies on ICT. Unsurprising given the party’s history and make up and possibly showing that despite the (somewhat) youthful face they are trying to paint on the party in terms of people like Jamie Whyte, clearly the underling policy makers are of a dinosaur and non-tech era. Still, Act are really only in it for Epsom and not much else. So they get a zero out of ten for ICT policy.

Aotearoa Cannabis Party

I guess if you could roll up a computer and smoke it, then we might have expected to see some kind of ICT policy out of them, but as it stands, this tired, one-trick pony is still performing the same dance. As an aside, given that the Internet Party is likely to campaign on decriminalising cannabis in some form, the two parties are likely to leach votes off each other. Zero out of ten.

The Alliance

The Alliance has a “Broadcasting and Communications” policy, which in olden days speak is sort of ICT. However, their policy has only one ICT related point with everything else related to broadcast content, of which they have some very strange ideas. The Alliance wants “A guarantee of low cost and reliable internet access for all New Zealanders, regardless of where they live.”

They also want “return of the “last mile” of the telephone network to public ownership.” Something that a) we know will never happen b) is an increasing redundant infrastructure as fiber replaces it and d) given that people are moving away from that home telephone service to mobile or pure Internet, un-necessary.

One out of ten.

Conservatives

Zero out of ten. But you knew that already. Not a single mention of ICT at all. This re branded Christian Party offers little in the way of anything to be honest and doesn’t even hint at an understanding of ICT.

New Zealand Democrats

Zero out of ten. This little know party has a policy on just about everything other than ICT. Strangely, their logo appears to be an American Eagle. Make of it what you will.

Focus

Bet you’ve never heard of them, neither had I. Dubbing themselves the “Common Sense Party”, I did laugh at that, politics has and never will have anything to do with common sense, they have a difficult website that is a chore to trawl through. Regardless, zero out of ten, no recognition of the ICT industry at all.

Green Party

Showing the youth of the party the Greens have managed to separate Broadcasting, Research Science & Technology, and have their very own ICT Policy.

As I have commented before it’s a solid policy that leans toward the left (sharing everything) and is being adapted over time. It covers everything from cheaper (or free) Internet access (as a citizen’s right), through to ICT education, free wireless in cities, and using ICT to push mobility and telecommuting.

Eight out of ten. The policy could be simplified a bit for the general reader.

Internet Party

Of all of the parties in this election you would expect that the Internet Party was the one with the most comprehensive ICT policy. But you’d be wrong. I want to spend a little bit of time on this, because a very interesting phenomena is occurring.

The one thing that the Internet Party have done is provided an ongoing “policy engine” (my words) online, that allows people to submit, discuss, and then vote on various ideas. The results of that have been very very interesting. One of the things that you have to give to the Internet Party is that they are transparent.

Vikram Kumar posted a topic in the policy engine around June 13, that most media would have missed (you need to spend time digging) titled “How to improve the Policy Incubator?”

In that post Vikram notes that only 14% of the Internet Party members were participating and the average participation on discussing and voting on proposals was a further 12%. Vikram also noted that “participation has fallen significantly over time.”

As of that date, the top five policies were:

  • Decriminalise cannabis.
  • Remove religion as a charitable purpose.
  • Support for electronic / Internet voting.
  • Work with other parties on a policy-by-policy basis.
  • Against the TPPA.

Now, the only ICT policy that I can see in that list is the one around electronic voting, which is underway in general.

Vikram gives some of his cards away by telling us basically that; the policy incubator needs to be improved (it’s not giving the results they expected in other words), participation has “significantly” declined, and participation is very low.

So why this result? Possibly because it’s the first time that a party has created an electronic discussion forum, which is likely to bring ALL opinionated people with ALL kinds of ideas, missing the ICT worker almost completely. The thing is, the policy incubator is actually working it’s just not giving the results that the Internet Party expected.

Given that, at some point they must come up with a set of policies, in line with their members feedback and it looks increasingly like that will either have to a) ignore the feedback they have had or b) be a list of things that aren’t actually ICT focussed.

Three out of ten, time will tell.

Labour

Labour’s flagship ICT policy is one of the “Digital Bill of Rights”. Now, they’ve struck on something here because in countries that are “more advanced in digital engagement” this is a key plank that drives it. I.e. As I’ve noted before, Estonia.

The thing that I like is that the policy is simple. For example; the digital bill of rights seeks to increase our privacy protection, freedom of expression on the Internet is supported, increase in publicly available free Internet access, and protection of your personal data from the private sector.

I’m giving them a seven out of ten. We could see some more policy that is specific to the ICT Industry.

Libertarianz

Zero out of ten. Again, no ICT policy shows a party that simply does not understand the issues or industry. Given the age of the party, I guess that stands to reason. Break out your cushioned TV dinner trays people.

Mana

The other half of the Internet Mana Collective, they get zero out of ten for their ICT policy. Which is a shame, I work with a lot of community organisations, including in the past some Maori tribes who were incredibly hot on getting access to their communities (which were often poverty stricken) in an effort to give the the next generation coming through real opportunities to learn and move on, purely in an ICT trade. It worked. At the height of that work we had large ICT organisations donating time, equipment, and training to communities.

Zero out of ten.

Maori

Et al Mana.

Zero out of ten.

New Zealand First

“New Zealand First brought your the Gold Card” the website proudly announces. Now, you’re thinking, “zero out of ten”, but surprisingly they have a “Broadcasting and ICT Policy”. Surprised? I was.

A lot of the policy hints at changes in the Telecommunications sector, and in addition, includes this:

“Ensure that New Zealand business are given the first opportunity for all Government ICT tenders before a foreign owned company. The work will go abroad if there is no New Zealand company offering the service.” – Source

That by itself would be a massive boon to the ICT Industry and recognises the ongoing issue of ICT tenders going overseas, rather than being delivered from a mature local industry.

Five out of ten. Nailed one issue, could have a more extensive policy.

National Party

It’s all about UFB. Recent news releases hint at increased money of ICT education as well. However the core plank still seems to be pushing UFB as hard as they can.

Now, UFB represents a significant national upgrade of ICT infrastructure, which is a very necessary and good thing. However, the uptake and delivery of that infrastructure has been achingly slow, despite the figures that are thrown out each quarter trying to spin it’s success.

Six out of ten. Missing so much. It shows a government that is building stuff possibly without understanding what it is.

United Future

“Check back soon for new policy!” Including ICT…

Zero out of ten.

Summary

What I think we are seeing is the relics of old age buried behind the parties. A lack of ICT policy shows that a party does not understand ICT. The Greens and Labour are streaks ahead in terms of practical, and interesting, policy. The incumbent needs to do more and New Zealand First surprises.

The one party that should be all about ICT has been sidetracked into policy discussion that has allowed a voice for people that have never been involved before, Internet Mana is all over the place.

With a few weeks to go, it will be interesting to see what comes out of the woodwork. I still have no idea who I will vote for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 comments

  1. On the one hand this is disappointing. On the other hand, at least the three main parties which are most likely to have cabinet positions have policies in place. I guess that’s what matters most.

    While the digital bill of rights sounds good, those rights really ought to be incorporated as part of a wider bill of rights, not hived off into a separate place. I’m not sure I like the idea of one set of rights in cyberspace (which after all is largely beyond New Zealand’s boundaries and therefore hard to control) with another, possible weaker set of rights where the government’s writ actually runs.

    What I’d really like to see is more about how each party will deal with government IT spending. Only NZ First is clear on that.

    I’d like to see a commitment to, at least, exploring open source alternatives to expense packages. Other people can argue this point better than me, I worry our departments are bedazzled by flash sales teams riding in from the USA and don’t look locally.

    Also we need a more equitable way of producing government tenders. Some of the tenders appear to be written specifically for, possibly even by, large multinationals and are more in their interests than that of the NZ public.

  2. ACT doesn’t have ICT policies deliberately. See my comments from the last election:

    “ACT believes that the government should not intervene in the ICT industry,” candidate Peter McCaffrey told Computerworld. “It is not a role of the government and so we have no policy on ICT. New Zealand needs less regulation, less bureaucracy and a stronger economy and this will allow the ICT sector to flourish for all New Zealanders.”

    http://www.computerworld.co.nz/article/493794/party_political_promises_ict_industry/

  3. ACT deliberately don’t have IT policy, because the government shouldn’t be involved in regulating the IT industry.

    See my comments as a candidate last election:

    http://www.computerworld.co.nz/article/493794/party_political_promises_ict_industry/

    The ACT party has deliberately not released an ICT policy. “ACT believes that the government should not intervene in the ICT industry,” candidate Peter McCaffrey told Computerworld. “It is not a role of the government and so we have no policy on ICT. New Zealand needs less regulation, less bureaucracy and a stronger economy and this will allow the ICT sector to flourish for all New Zealanders.”

  4. Following on from Jin, it really is easy to find the Internet Party’s policies and summary of ICT positions. The home page is https://internet.org.nz/ and a link to each policy is at the bottom of the page. To get a quick overview, take a look at the Action Agenda https://internet.org.nz/agenda and you’ll see the very first policy is about the Internet.

    For your convenience, the main ICT policies are Cheaper, Universal Internet https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eeOS5cf7tvqC50lBAkQ3zJSt1bCcpZeFkwfaykeg2xk Privacy and Internet Freedom (which has reference to a Bill of Digital Rights) https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qTAFzZSsBEoRuO2J1s4VMRsKJF-OilpGboYR1sRK25M Copyright https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Le3rY0wlh9tJaBzpxK5xrpeWID-j5FmeE4dqONdQATE and Independence https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MLtTdsoXc5_CaNCRg3XuIa9qaiuTmyOVANTRuWrmNXM. There are also ICT references in our Environment policy such as Green Data Centres and Smart Cities as well as the Modern Schools policy.

    Note that these policies are discussed in the Policy Forum https://internet.org.nz/forum where you will see a lot of member interest and expertise in ICT.

    The comments about our Policy Incubator need to be seen in the context of innovating and continuous improvement. There are great ideas coming out and the Internet Party is the only one that allows everyone to see these internal discussions transparently. Have a look https://internet-party.loomio.org/ and you’ll see some great ICT discussions going on.

    Anyone who wants to be a judge needs to do so fairly and put in the effort to make a proper judgement of all the facts.

    1. As always, thanks Vikram

      I have found the site to be difficult to find what it is that you are standing for. The policy is sort of buried right at the bottom and the discussion at the top.

      Anyway, keep going and I’ll be reviewing again before the big day.

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