Greens urge $100m ICT spend

The Green Party is proposing a future government invest $100 million as a way of kick-starting a second internet cable system to New Zealand.

In August, the Pacific Fibre board ended its operations, citing an inability to raise the $400 million required to fund the laying of the cable. Pacific Fibre launched in March 2010 and planned to build a 13,000km high-speed fibre-optic cable connecting New Zealand and Australia to California.

Its board included David Kirk, Michael Boustridge, Rod Drury, Sir Stephen Tindall, Sam Morgan and Mark Rushworth (chief executive). Green co-leader Russel Norman said yesterday Government investment in a second internet cable system, supported by smarter government procurement policies, would lead a step-change in the ICT economy, stimulating exports and creating green jobs.

''Our reliance on a single provider for our internet means higher prices, data caps and less innovation. This stifles the full economic potential of the ICT sector.''

In September 2011, the Australian telecommunication research company, Market Clarity, reported the cost of bandwidth to the United States from New Zealand was 5.8 times greater than the price paid by Australians.

Dr Norman said the for-profit joint venture would be subject to a competitive tender and require no new government spending. It would be achieved by giving new priorities to poor quality spending.

New government procurement guidelines were also suggested in the package.

Dr Norman said Government agencies would need to consider the wider economic benefits to New Zealand of supporting the local ICT industry when making purchasing decisions.

''The ICT sector is a key component of our vision for a smart green economy. The potential of the sector is huge, the jobs are well paid and continued growth of the sector won't come at the cost of our environment.''

The Green Party consulted widely with the ICT sector in the development of the discussion paper and was seeking public feedback which would be incorporated into the final policy due before the 2014 election.

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