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Labour's ICT policy, part II: I give it an A-

I've just got back from a press conference at Parliament where David Cunliffe and Clare Curran launched the second part of their ICT policy. The first bit was done a couple of weeks ago at Nethui: my thoughts on that are here.

As an outsider it was fascinating to watch the press gallery in action and quite a contrast from the Nethui launch.

Today's launch dealt with three areas, connectivity, digital divide and on-line rights.

Both Mr Cunliffe and Ms Curran showed the depth that comes from one being a former ICT minister and the other having had six years to grow in the ICT spokesoman's role. Mr Cunliffe dealt with the big picture stuff, a deep review of the whole UFB project, including CFH, the LFC's and what can be done about the copper transition.

We're also being promised what should be the final review of the Telco Act, which would be welcome, and then focus shifted to the RBI. I've recently outlined TUANZ's view of things rural and there's some interesting discussion going on after that post.

Labour recognises that rural is far from solved and as well as the inevitable review are also looking at fostering innovation in rural connectivity with a $9.6 million contestable fund. It also supports more competition in international connectivity and talks about a cable from Southland to Australia.

On the digital divide, they tackle the role of local government and want to get the 20% of households with no broadband on-line. Again hard to fault and the devil will be in the details.

On online rights, it's basically less spying, legal access to content and a civilised approach to copyright.

All in all, I'd give this one an A-, as one industry attendee said: "Clare has obviously been listening to a lot of people." 

I now await the National Party policy with interest, I hope i get invited to their launch.

Chris O'Connell is the interim of CEO of the Tuanz, the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand and the director of strategy for XandAR

Comments and questions
1

I think their policy of mandating vendor-neutral open software standards for gov't IT procurement deserves both mention and praise. For those who haven't seen (it hasn't been noted by any of the NZ-based IT media so far as I have seen), the UK enacted policy yesterday (with overwhelming IT industry support) which mandates open standards support for all gov't document exchange, meaning that MS' DOC/X, XLS/X, PPT/X are no longer acceptable for communicating inter-agency, or with business or public. Instead gov't agencies must use documents formatted in vendor-neutral HTML, PDF, or ODF (which supports word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, and drawing content) formats. This is a huge victory for everyone but Microsoft, and levels a playing field that's been slanted in their favour for a couple decades. NZ should definitely make the same switch.