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Green Party goes big with ICT paper

A $100 million cornerstone government investment in a second fibre optic cable is one of the core’ initiatives’ touted by the Green Party in its ICT Green Discussion Paper, released today.

The 25% cornerstone investment by the government would provide certainty to attract further private investors for the $400 million for-profit joint venture and ensure it stays in New Zealand control, the party says.

“Government investment in a second internet cable system, supported by smarter government procurement policies, will lead a step-change in the ICT economy, growing exports and creating green jobs,” Russel Norman, Green Party co-leader, says.

He adds that: “A second cable system will finally break Telecom’s monopoly on international internet provision.”

The document says a second cable system will support the growth of the ICT industry directly through cheaper, faster internet access and provide wider indirect economic benefits through firm efficiency and innovation.

“A second cable system will unlock the full potential of the Government’s investment in ultra-fast broadband, ensuring it doesn’t simply become an ultra-fast intranet.”

The document says while the $100 million is ‘a significant investment’ it amounts to 0.8% of the $12 billion spend on new motorways.

“Prioritising this spending would enable a $100 million investment in a second cable without adding to Government debt.”

New procurement guidelines were touted in today’s package of proposed initiatives.

“Government agencies will need to consider the wider economic benefits to New Zealand of supporting the local ICT industry when making purchasing decisions,” Norman says.

“We’ll require the use of open standards and give a strong preference for the use of open source software which can deliver cheaper, more secure systems, while empowering smaller New Zealand providers to bid for the work.”

Norman says the ICT sector is a key component of the Greens’ vision for a smart green economy.

The discussion paper also includes talk of initiatives to amend the Patents Bill to prevent patenting of software ‘which is chilling software development overseas’, and including ICT in the apprenticeship scheme, while encouraging ICT companies to develop their own apprenticeship/internship schemes.

The Green Party is seeking public feedback on the discussion paper, with the feedback due to be incorporated into final policy, due before the 2014 election.