The Labour Party digital upgrade policy received good reviews
from those attending NetHui 2014 yesterday, but Science and
Innovation Minister Steven Joyce was scathing of the policy.
Mr Joyce said the big news of the day was Labour discovering
the information, communications and technology sector.
Labour leader David Cunliffe said a Labour government would
support the ICT sector to make New Zealand a tech-savvy
nation and put ICT at the heart of party's economic upgrade
Among the things he announced were plans to establish 1200
digital apprenticeships and support first-time entrepreneurs
with ''Garage Grants''.
''Technology is a game changer. We can become a prosperous
nation supported by a vibrant IT industry.''
The Garage Grants would enable entrepreneurs who wanted to
transform their clever ideas into something big.
To encourage investment, Labour would provide tax deferrals
in the form of accelerated depreciation to ICT manufacturers
and research and development tax incentives to encourage
investment in new technology and plant.
The digital apprentices would cost $2.1 million in the first
Labour would also create a government-backed app store to
assist fledgling New Zealand software developers; instruct
government agencies to implement a whole-of-government
approach to open software; and establish the role of chief
technology, officer reporting directly to the prime minister
While NetHui participants were very supportive on social
media of Labour's plans, Mr Joyce said Labour's ideas were
not up to date and poorly thought through.
The proposed grants and accelerated depreciation for
start-ups were already happening and the Government already
had a chief information officer performing a similar role to
Labour's chief technology officer proposal.
''The demand in ICT is primarily for graduate level software
designers and programmers, not in the trades. That's why
we're investing nearly $30 million dollars in our ICT grad
schools for final-year undergraduate and postgraduate
training. They would be far better to endorse that
Suggesting wasting taxpayers' money setting up a government
app store was truly off the planet, Mr Joyce said.
New Zealanders were capable of competing and winning in the
international app marketplace, as well as finding great Kiwi
apps online, without that sort of support, he said.
Internet Party leader Laila Harre said ICT policy needed to
go further than an upgrade.
There needed to be more vision, more excitement and more
''It's great to see a growing focus on the digital economy
and greater agreement on how to break down barriers to
growth. But limiting our ambitions to an upgrade underplays
the once-in-100-years opportunity for New Zealand.