​New Zealand gets NZ$3.9m 'cyber' boost in 2018 Budget

The Computer Emergency Response Team, a government CTO, R&D, and Communications get a slice of the New Zealand Budget.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The New Zealand government has delivered its 2018 Budget, offering up NZ$3.9 million of new operating funding over the next four years to the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT).

CERT, established just over 12 months ago, responds to major cyber events and provides advice to businesses, organisations, and individuals who may be affected by cybersecurity incidents.

The government said the cash injection is a crucial investment to counter major cyber threats.

"We're dealing with threats such as disruptive malware, denial-of-service attacks, and theft of data perpetrated by a range of actors, including organised criminal groups and vigilante hackers," NZ Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran said in a statement on Thursday.

"Reported financial losses in the year to the end of April show that New Zealanders lost more than NZ$5.3 million from known cyber incursions. We need to improve our capabilities now to get ahead of these threats."

The funding provided to CERT over four years follows the government last month announcing it was refreshing its cybersecurity strategy.

"There are a range of victims -- the corporate sector, government agencies, small businesses, and individuals -- so it is crucial CERT is funded to enhance its trusted and authoritative services," Curran continued.

The New Zealand government is also on the hunt for a new chief technology officer to help drive a digital agenda for the nation and "respond to the opportunities and challenges of our changing digital world".

After republishing the job advert earlier this month, the Budget has allocated NZ$17.6 million over four years for the country's first government CTO.

"This funding will specifically support meeting costs in setting up a chief technology officer with secretariat support and Ministerial Advisory Groups for Digital Economy & Inclusion, Open Government, and Broadcasting," the Budget papers explain.

"This funding contributes to a programme of system-wide digital and data initiatives. These initiatives support and enable agencies to effectively meet key government commitments including a more open government, strengthened democracy, public participation, and improved service provision."

NZ$1 billion over four years has also been allocated to finance a tax incentive for more research and development (R&D) by Kiwi businesses.

"We have committed through the Coalition Agreement with New Zealand First to lifting our research and development spending as a country by 50 percent -- to 2 percent of GDP inside 10 years," Minister of Finance Grant Robertson said in his Budget speech on Thursday. "This is about future-proofing our economy."

The NZ$1 billion of operating expenditure over four years on the table to finance an R&D tax incentive is expected to give eligible businesses 12.5 cents back for every dollar they spend on R&D.

The funding will be available to all businesses spending more than NZ$100,000 a year on R&D, a statement from the Beehive explains.

"This system will help us transition away from the current Growth Grants model, which is available to a narrower range of firms. This represents a significant increase in the amount available to help smart Kiwi businesses to innovate," Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods said.

The design of the R&D tax incentive is currently out for public consultation.

The government is also investing in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's ability to deliver on New Zealand's communications policy, infrastructure, and digital economy priorities.

"Budget 2018 provides NZ$6.2 million of new operating funding over the next four years so the ministry can continue to provide policy advice on communications issues, such as 5G mobile networks and ultra-fast broadband," Curran added.

The government will also establish a tripartite forum with Business New Zealand and the Council of Trade Unions in a bid to advance projects that will "improve business use of technology, create more productive workplaces, improve skills and training, and support a just transition to the rapidly changing world of work".

Meanwhile, Defence and Internal Affairs has been given NZ$386 million to support system-wide digital and data initiatives.


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