His trusty sidekick Steven Joyce, a businessman from the radio
industry, is heading the charge, with a NZ$1.5 billion initiative
Key developed in opposition, a policy Key preferred to keep rather
than the abandoned tax cuts that formed the centrepiece of his
There again, I've lived in Australia. I know you have cash to
spare. It pays more to be China's quarry than it does to be its
farm. And your dollar goes so much further than our Pacific Peso.
We are just your poor Kiwi cousins.
However, it appears the New Zealand Government has done its
reports and prepared its business case on our own broadband,
unless, of course, our media forgot to ask. But the days of leaving
it to the private sector are over, as Key and Joyce take a
pragmatic "whatever works" line. Joyce admits there will be
government involvement, with it ready to step in should private
operators not jump on board.
While there might be the odd delay, such pragmatism is blunting
any opposition. Indeed, every announcement on the broadband
program seems to be widely welcomed, with just the odd complaints
from telcos and the opposition Labour Party.
People might say Key's biggest achievement was appearing on Letterman, a YouTube hit, [but] our PM is certainly delivering on broadband.
But the telcos are keen to work with government, not many listen
to New Zealand Labour nowadays, and technology is not an issue with
a great political divide. It is something the country seems united
Just last month I was in the rural Central Hawkes Bay and one IT
reseller was telling me how these agribusinesses need broadband to
run their financials, plan their stocking, etc, etc, and how
government must do more.
Of course, there are limitations to what government can do.
There are fears government activity can undermine what the private
sector can do, as outlined by
TelstraClear opposing broadband plans by the Christchurch City
Council. But New Zealand under Key and Joyce seem to date to be
successfully negotiating this tightrope, branded "Labour-lite" by
some and accused of having "a secret right-wing privatisation
agenda" by others.
We also saw, after a concerted campaign by bloggers and others,
National dropping the controversial Section 92A Copyright Act,
developed by Labour, though some new Bill is being considered.
But perhaps the most significant technological policy of the
past year stems from Steven Joyce's other role as transport inister. From 1 November, he banned the use of handheld mobile phones in cars! Not only something to impact on how Kiwis do business but
sure to dent telco incomes as this blogger noted!
Joyce did it to public and industry acclaim, amazing considering
an interventionist Labour government had abandoned similar policies
as "Nanny State". Now, what was that
about National being Labour-lite!!!