headerlogo-nzrise-logoNZRise, one of New Zealand’s ICT lobby groups has spent quite a bit of time putting together a series of questions on where political parties stand on ICT. So I thought, must be about time I gave my opinion again on where I think they are sitting. A winner and loser for each of the ten questions (and the one that was the weirdest). I’ll be doing a final update just prior to the election on published policy. Until then.

You can find all the questions and all the answers here.

Update: Maori Party now has some answers in which I haven’t captured here, at the above link.

Now. Here’s how in my opinionated way (wearing my opinion like a hat), I judged them. First, did I think it was a good idea (or bad) secondly, did they describe how they were actually going to achieve it or was it just waffle, and finally, was it a positive (or negative) impact on New Zealand ICT workers.

What are your policies to support the digital technology sector in New Zealand in terms of growth in jobs?

Labour takes this section out. The policy statements are very simple to understand and are very practical. Unlike other parties, they don’t waffle on.

United Future takes the weird award, it was just pure waffle with no meaning.

The stand out loser was National, who rather than answering the question, highlighted what they think they have already done. National, as yet, don’t have an ICT Policy.

What changes if any would your party make to the current role of Government Chief Information Officer (GCIO)?

Labour wins here again. They simply elevate the role to report directly to the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Internet Mana is the weird one, the question is what changes and what they propose is basically what the GCIO does now.

ACT is the star loser, who would simply abolish the position, which shows they don’t know the first thing about ICT in government…

How would your party encourage better use of digital technology across government organisations and up-skill senior government staff?

National wins. They point directly at the Government ICT Strategy and commit to carrying on with it. While the Strategy itself is boring and fluffy for at least fifty percent, their is good stuff in there that will make a difference.

Clear loser is ACT; “the IT requirements of government departments would become significantly simpler than the complex bureaucracy requires now.” *face palm* Anyone who thinks they can reduce complexity in ICT and lower costs, especially in Government, really doesn’t know what they are talking about, particularly when we need a lot more investment in the next few years.

The Greens get the weird award, their answer babbles on about state surveillance and security, nothing to do with the question.

What changes if any would your party make to procurement processes for all of Government and Common Capability in relation to digital technology products and services?

ACT wins. It’s a simple philosophy. Reduce the bureaucracy around current processes which then unlocks the ability for smaller companies to respond.

The Internet Mana Party loses. The answer looks like it will increase bureaucracy and the cost of doing business with government while at the same time slowing down progress. It’s unnecessarily complex.

No one wins the weird award for this question.

What changes if any would your party make to procurement processes for all of Government and Common Capability in relation to digital technology products and services?

Labour wins. “Labour will adopt a target of keeping $200 million a year of contracting in New Zealand across all areas of government procurement, rather than sending that work overseas.” Pretty simple and sends a good message to the government procurement people.

ACT are the losers; “We believe in a competitive playing field and have great confidence in the ability of New Zealand firms to compete and win against all companies.” Only that isn’t what happens and making bland statements like that show again that the party doesn’t get ICT.

National are the weird answer stating they have no preference then in the next breath trying to tell us that they’ve already made it better.

“What are your policies on vendor neutral, royalty free and open standards (particularly for file formats and data transfer protocols) for software vendors for Government procurement?”

ACT wins this one. Basically, government should purchase what works and where open source is proven their should be a preference.

The Internet Mana Party loses. They would mandate the use of open. Now, mandate hasn’t, won’t, and never ever will work. It’s a silly way of getting people to do things and creates a multitude of problems for government agencies.

How would your party support NZ digital technology companies looking to export their products or services?

Most respondents either didn’t get it, or just plain waffled. No winner.

How would your party showcase NZ digital technology companies overseas?

Labour wins. They would strengthen NZTE to allow better access to overseas markets.

ACT loses. Stating they would decrease the current service.

What is your policy on funding post graduate research and study in Computer Science, Information Systems, and other ICT-related areas?

Labour wins with a raft of measures designed to boost numbers.

National loses by virtue of the fact they have no policy.

The Internet Mana Party wins the weird award for promising to double the number of tech workers (would that mean we go from 50,000 to 100,000?) in a waffly way. It’s not realistic.

How would your party support education of new digital technology workers?

Internet Mana wins this one with a very simple statement about teaching kids directly from a young age and supporting the IITP’s ongoing efforts in shaping education.

ACT wins the weird award by saying “government should support them by providing student loans so that there is no financial barrier to acquiring a tertiary education.” Tui billboard there. The fact that massive student loan debt is a financial barrier seems to have escaped the policy department.

National loses again by pointing back to days gone by and having no clear policy.

How does your party propose to help address our digital technology skills shortage in the near term?

It’s getting a bit repetitive isn’t it…

ACT, loser, suggests we shouldn’t have to do much because we can source skills from people in other countries virtually. Actually, it takes a double award with weird as well. Not only are they not supporting New Zealand Inc, they are suggesting that ICT can all be off shored.

There are no clear winners. Everyone basically said that they would lower immigration barriers.

Would you like to add any other comments?

Labour wins. Again, simple, future looking, pragmatic solutions are outlined here.

ACT loses with this off hand statement that really says it all: “ACT believes that with the correct price signals and regulatory environment, the private sector will find innovative ways to solve its problems – in a way that the government bureaucrats will never achieve.” Again, showing an ignorance in the ICT profession and sector.

National gets the weird award by default again looking backwards.

Summary

Aside from ACT, most parties, they ones that responded, generally supported the New Zealand ICT Industry. ACT don’t. They have a hands off attitude that would see a large amount of our industry being off shored.

National is a disappointment, still no ICT policy and literally two and a half weeks to Election day. What, did they forget? Seriously. They need to pull something out of the hat.

Labour, Greens, and Internet Mana in that order for ICT policy. Labour wins by putting forward pragmatics solutions that are supported by the Greens. Internet Mana is very waffly and at times almost too clever for its own good, thought they come in third because at least the have a policy.

 

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