Greens announce plan to close digital divide and support high-tech industries

The Green Party has today outlined plans to address the digital divide and support New Zealand’s high-tech sectors.

Green Party Co-leader, James Shaw made the announcement on a visit to Springload, one of New Zealand’s leading digital agencies.

“Technology is changing not just how people do business, or how we buy products, it is reshaping how many of us interact, how we form and maintain relationships, and how we address some of the most pressing challenges we face.

“These changes are happening fast and have undoubtedly created opportunities that would have been hard to imagine even a generation ago. However, affordable connectivity and accessible technology still remains out of reach for many New Zealanders. And for those that do have access, far too many do not have the skills, motivation, or confidence to get online,” James Shaw said.

The Green Party would implement Internet NZ’s five-point plan for digital inclusion, including making internet connectivity and devices affordable for those on low incomes and ensuring accessible digital skills training for working people and small businesses.

“The scale of the digital divide in Aotearoa has been laid bare during the COVID-19 response. Working and studying from home has, in particular, highlighted the urgent need to deal with the significant issue of unequal access to technology across Aotearoa.

“When people do not have access to technology, or the confidence to use it, their means of communicating with the outside world are limited, which can lead to social isolation and loneliness. Implementing Internet NZ’s five-point plan for digital inclusion would take a huge step towards addressing this, particularly as more and more of the services we all use move online, and schools and workplaces require increasing digital literacy,” James Shaw said.

James Shaw also announced that the Green Party would use government procurement to support local technology suppliers.

“Previous Governments have consistently imported technology from large overseas companies, leaving New Zealand based companies with lower-value contracts. Yet, we know New Zealand grown tech business already have the skills and expertise to meet local demand.

“High-tech sectors contribute to the success of other industries. New processes and technologies will add value to New Zealand’s exports, moving us from volume to value. We can precision mill our timber onshore, process our agricultural commodities into specialised products, and improve the productivity of businesses up and down the country.

“The Green Party will harness the power of government procurement to support these businesses. This will support Kiwi tech businesses to develop innovative new products that can then be exported to the world,” James Shaw said.

James Shaw added that modern manufacturing and technology can also support the transition to a low carbon economy.

“New technology will also be critical for our transition to low-carbon energy, transport and agriculture sectors. New Zealand has a huge competitive advantage in a low-carbon world, we need to back local firms to tackle these challenges and reap the rewards.”

The Greens’ plan for the high-tech economy includes:

  • Establishing a Digital Export Office at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to support low-carbon ‘weightless exports’
  • Using government procurement to support local suppliers and open-source software, including hosting government data onshore, to deliver broader value to Aotearoa
  • Giving technology firms and software developers a voice in trade negotiations
  • Supporting 3D printing-based manufacturing through a National Growth Strategy
  • Implement Internet NZ’s five-point plan for digital inclusion and ensure all government websites are accessible to people with disabilities, and are available in te reo Māori and other languages.