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Laila Harre NBR interview part 2: Baboom offshoring jobs; getting paid; the UFB; how she rolls

[continued from part one]

Chris Keall: Where’s all the Baboom* development taking place

Mikee Tucker: Portugal.

CK [to Harre]: What do you think about Dotcom using offshore labour?

MT: The truth is the skills are in Portugal. That’s what Kim does, he scours the world for absolutely the best teams in coding and development. And that’s where they were.

LH: And I certainly hope that with the kind of programme and policies that we would like to see in place the best teams will be in New Zealand in the future.

MT: There are also six of us from Baboom in New Zealand. It’s a New Zealand company.

CK: It just seems strange to me for someone [Dotcom] who’s an aspiring political figure to have the ownership in Hong Kong and to offshore the work.

LH: I don’t …

MT: Baboom’s a New Zealand company.

CK: Vikram Kumar said it was controlled by Kim Dotcom’s company’s in Hong Kong.

MT: The main holding company is in NZ.

CK [to Harre]: Are you being paid?

LH: I haven’t even discussed that with anybody? So … I mean Kim Dotcom’s on record as saying there will be payment for candidates. It’s certainly not something that’s featured in any of my discussions with him at all. [Harre has since confirmed she will be paid a salary equivalent to a backbench MP, which is to say $147,800 plus expenses].

CK: How do you rate the government’s efforts with the Ultrafast Broadband rollout? What would you like to see changed?

LH: I’ve been out of the active ICT policy area since I was Associate Minister of Communications in the 1999 to 2002 government [where Harre was an Alliance MP and cabinet minister in the Labour-led government].

So I don’t claim to have current sort of indepth awareness or expertise.

I certainly know I think it’s pretty appalling for a programme that’s been supposedly running out for so long that I can live 2km from the centre of downtown Auckland and I still don’t have Ultrafast Broadband.

And I live in a house or share a house with a very successful internet business run by my husband so clearly there’s something not right there.

[Harre’s husband Dr Barry Gribben runs a medical research company. Harre and Gribben also own Awaroa Organic Winery, a vineyard on Waiheke, but are best known in Auckland for bankrolling Italian restaurant O'Sarracino Mt Eden Rd. While not in any way endorsing Ms Harre’s politics, NBR can confirm the Spaghetti Nero di Seppia ($33) or spaghetti with black squid ink is to die for - CK]

And I can see that there is a need to increase competition in terms of the current dependence on one [international] cable and bring the price of internet down.

So don’t treat me as a current expert.

But I feel very confident that my expertise in this area will grow with the kind of nous I now have around me.

CK: In terms of the domestic UFB, do you think it’s the case that it’s been mismanaged but it’s general principles are pretty good or …

LH: I’m not prepared to even go to that place at the moment.

I’ve studied the Internet Party’s policy. I’m getting to grips with their analysis of the issues in this area and I know that I’ll be confidently dealing with public policy issues in this area with that sort of expertise behind me

MT: I guess now the key thing is that Vikram [Internet Party CEO Vikram Kumar] has seen through the Mana merger and Laila’s contract and can the candidate selection finals next week that Vikram, who was leading the policy team, can really lead the policy team.

LH: What I bring to the table is my political experience and credibility.

I’ve taken ministerial positions in areas for example statistics with no professional background whatsoever in that before and made a real difference. I introduced as Minister of Statistics – at my initiative – free access to census data for any New Zealander online.

That was an initiative I took right through government.

When I took the role of Minister of Statistics, it was a case of working out what were the most important things to achieve and how quickly we could do it.

And that’s how I roll.

Laila Harre's NBR interview part 1: Free varsity; that John Banks donation

* Baboom being Kim Dotcom's music streaming service, due to launch later this year. He describes it as a cross between iTunes and Spotify, with the chance to download commercial songs for free if you install Baboom's ad-substitution software. Content will be an issue for Baboom, given the major record labels are suing Dotcom over his previous venture, Megaupload.

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Comments and questions

The fact is the UFB rollout is on schedule and she is just being elitest if she thinks her rich suburb should be rolled out before other suburbs*.

We have also seen that private enterprise, name Hawaiki Cable with the backing of the Todd Group will be building a new trans pacific cable, so no need for government subsidies here.

* I also think the rollout should have been demand driven which would have resulted in rich suburbs getting it first but that is beside the point.