Technology: An Alternative Budget


Budget 2013 makes good progress in reducing New Zealand's debt, but lacks the big ideas for driving growth.

The technology industry is going through a period of enormous change as the internet connects all businesses and consumers creating big opportunities for New Zealand.

Just for fun, here are a collection of ideas the government could consider for the next budget:

  1. The government announces, a new Crown-owned company that commissions and manages a new international fibre cable that connects Australia, New Zealand and the USA.  The government commits $50 million of funding; the NZ Super Fund invests $100 million from Kiwisaver; and the government seeking expressions of interest from other investors such as iwi and ACC. The cable will cost $US300 million and deliver in excess of 12.5TB/sec of new capacity. Its charter would be to return 10% return annually on funds invested with other income used to improve New Zealand internet. 
  2. The cable will supply virtually uncapped international connectivity at $5 per connection per month for consumers and $20 per month for small businesses. It will also supply connectivity to Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) at prices to be determined. 
  3. The ICT and Broadcasting portfolios are merged. The new Minister is charged with unlocking content from overseas providers so it can be legally purchased in New Zealand (for example: Netflix, iTunes, Amazon) to stimulate UFB uptake. TVNZ will broadcast content for free and additionally make all content available globally for a small fee (for example: paid content in iTunes).
  4. A provincial call centres initiative. To create new provincial jobs, $2m allocated for NZTE to work with provincial councils, outside of Auckland, with the objective of creating 2000 new contact centre jobs servicing offshore customers.
  5. New Zealand is established as an internet privacy zone. Content stored here is private and cannot be accessed without a formal legal process. In addition, New Zealand issues 2000 internet working visas for US citizens who earn their income on the internet to reside in New Zealand. Their income is to be declared in New Zealand.
  6. A new global entrepreneur visa to encourage connected individuals to reside and invest in New Zealand. Their New Zealand personal tax is set at a flat $1 million per annum with no further claim on world wide income.
  7. The government signals to the banking and mobile industries it wants a single standard for mobile payments deployed nationally in 2014.
  8. All government departments make their business and consumer interactions available as web services by 2015.
  9. Establishment of an electronic register to identity all trading entities, including sole traders.
  10. In part to apologise for Novapay, and to enhance digital literacy, all teachers are given a tablet device (cost approximately $25 million, but offset substantially by reduced communication and systems costs). A further $25 million fund is made available for registered teachers to apply to create digital education courses. Any proceeds from sales of the courseware to be directed back to the fund. [The budget does provide an extra $50 million on the network infrastructure side of things, with $50 million more for the School Network Upgrade Project and . The move followed criticism many schools could not afford to connect to UFB fibre. Next problem: money and know-how to use that extra bandwidth - CK.]

There are some ideas. Would welcome any other thoughts.

Rod Dury is CEO of Xero, and was a co-founder of Pacific Fibre.

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