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All aboard the ICT policy train (more entertainment)

Saturday afternoon, Kapiti, Waikanae to be exact. I can’t afford a bach up here, however thanks to the the Book-a-Bach service, I don’t really have too. I’m parked at the Long Beach Bar, which has over forty beers on it’s list plus good food and coffee and I’m reading through the various lobby groups and news reports that have started popping up in the last fortnight focusing on what political parties are proposing in the way of ICT Policy. Not a great deal has changed since I last wrote about it,

No scoring this time, no one has really moved much over the past weeks and some political parties haven’t even got around to releasing their policy yet.

Hilarity in this news post by the NZ Tech Lobby Group, after they hosted the three major parties at their AGM and threw in the Internet Mana Party because, well, they are meant to be a tech party by their very nature I guess, but, they are providing a lot of entertainment value.

Rod Drury, who has made it to the top and must now fight to stay there had some inspirational words for the rest of us:

“Rod said he found what the four politicians had to say was “really depressing” but that he’d try to stay positive.

He said Kim dotcom should go away and it’s insulting to the industry who have worked hard for years that politicians think they have the answers. He called on the politicians to engage with the sector because the people in the sector have the answers but politicians aren’t listening.” (See more on Rod's dumbfoundment here).http://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/best-week-labour-fires-broadband-blank

A reasonable summary of what a lot of us are thinking I suspect. However, I do think this election is far more interesting in terms of politicians grasping that ICT is important, even if they have no idea of what that means…

The Sheep Farming Lawyer and Minister for National’s ICT portfolio said:

“National won’t be releasing its ICT policy until the campaign proper gets underway in the next few weeks.”

She then proceeded to tell everyone about how wonderful they (National) have already been including their amazingly successful UFB programme, which is even better than the RBI programme (Australian equivalent of UFB).

That is like comparing the Costa Concordia (RBI) to the Awatere (UFB). One went aground and the other’s propeller fell off. A lot of the facts and figures that she provided are thinly spun stats that have little substance, in my opinion.

Labour is aggressively chasing the ICT vote with the release of two policy statements in the last fortnight. It’s good stuff and Clare Curran should be pleased with the feedback it’s getting around the traps. Frankly, it’s the kind of policy that you would have expected to see from a technology party, like Internet Mana.

The Greens want more wives on your public transport, something that made me chortle to myself:

“Wife on public transport”

Now I assume that Gareth means WiFi, and we have an excellent auto-correct moment. I don’t know about you Wellington, but I couldn’t get my wife on public transport with a cattle prod.

Despite Drury being depressed and smacking the Pollies around, Gareth and the Greens are fans:

“Hughes says five years ago we didn’t have an tech heroes to look up to but with the likes of Xero’s success that’s changing. He suggests that the thriving tech sector will encourage young kids to look up to the people in the sector and that will mean more young people choosing careers in the sector.”

Then we get to the Joker in the Pack Party, the Party Party, the oh look someone’s burning a flag party, yes sir, the Internet Mana Party!

“Laila Haare spoke at a more conceptual level reminding members that the Internet party was formed because they saw enormous and untested opportunities in the digital future.”

I think someone really needs to give Laila a crash course in a) ICT and b) the Internet Mana’s ICT Policies…

“The Internet party has identified three major areas in the tech sector:

  • The physical infrastructure
  • The human development challenge
  • Systems-wide thinking needed within government sector to understand the importance of these issues and to integrate all the digital issues into public policy thinking.

The Internet party is ambivalent about the concept of a CTO for New Zealand. Their concern is that it misses the point that we need a much deeper transformation of the way the public sector works.”

So, policy, more interwebs, more socialism (nothing wrong with that), and blather. Government is kind of starting to do number three.

The Internet Mana party is ambivalent about a Government CTO, mind you, perhaps if they get a few seats they can promote Kim Dotcom or John Minto, or both, into the role. Such fun!

Chris O’Connell over at TUANZ has written not one, but two, blogs on the Labour Policy. Labour launches policy at NetHui and Labour’s ICT Policy pt2…

“Biggest idea I see is the establishment of National CTO role reporting to the PM like the Chief Scientist, this is quite different and separate to the current GCIO.”

Something that I have long advocated for. The current GCIO role being buried in New Zealand’s oldest and most bureaucratic (necessarily so) Department of Internal Affairs. It doesn’t allow the role to look at the entire sector, doesn’t give the necessary time for leadership (as the GCIO and DIA CE are the same person), and is bogged down by a massively risk adverse way of thinking.

The Institute of IT Professionals also blogged on Labour’s policies, focusing on the Government CTO role rather than their usual hobby horse, education.

“The party’s Digital Economic Upgrade policy calls for the CTO to produce an annual ICT roadmap, while undertaking a “wide-ranging inquiry” of the way IT projects are managed by government agencies. Central to the announcement are also some well-needed changes to immigration.”

Of course the Institute of IT Education, erm, Professionals does cover off the training aspect noting that they liked the idea of ICT Apprenticeships.

Good news I think, ICT at the end of the day is a trade in my opinion. Just like a plumber, electrician, builder, and the like. Apprenticeships would be an excellent way to get skilled staff while avoiding the problem of technology changing so rapidly that by the time a University Computer Science degree is complete, it’s redundant knowledge.

A couple of commentators have pointed out that New Zealand First has picked up on the ICT Policy frenzy with some thoughts of their own. This is new and interesting. ICT and Education, ICT and Privacy, ICT and Business, ICT E-Waste, ICT Security, and ICT and Telco.

I take back my previous comments that the dinosaur party had mistaken television sets with computers. We’ll be looking at their policy in the next few weeks.

So the politicking is continuing and it can only be a good thing for New Zealand ICT as a whole.

I’m not sure about Drury’s sentiments. Apart from the depressing one. Particularly when it relates to National. I still find it amazing that they have no real ICT policy to show yet, I wonder if they have been caught on the hop.

In the meantime, I am going back to my North End ESB. A hand pumped, warm, flat, English style beer made in Waikanae. It’s remarkably good.

Independent cloud computing consultant Ian Apperley posts at Whatisitwellington.