Labour gets serious about regional development

Written By: - Date published: 1:46 pm, February 1st, 2017 - 46 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, economy, labour, tech industry - Tags: ,

Labour is serious about regional development. It is proposing a 10 year $200m package of regional initiatives. The first of these was just announced in Dunedin:

Digital plan to unlock Dunedin’s potential

Labour will ensure all New Zealand’s regions have a chance to thrive, beginning with the establishment of a new Centre of Digital Excellence to be based in Dunedin, says Labour Leader Andrew Little.

“Labour stands for unlocking the potential in all of our regions, with all New Zealanders, and it begins in Dunedin with this exciting development.

“The Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE) builds on Dunedin’s strengths as a centre of knowledge, innovation and expertise in the new economy.

“Dunedin has a solid foundation of talent in the gaming and digital sector. We intend capitalising further on that by establishing a Chair of Computer Gaming at Otago University, setting up a gaming incubator with a motion capture studio and providing a funding pool to attract talent to the city through partnerships with the industry and education providers.

“The potential is huge for Dunedin, and great for New Zealand as a whole – and yet very affordable. We’ll provide $10 million over ten years, coming from our $200 million Regional Development Fund, which we’ve announced previously.

“CODE is the first of a series of initiatives Labour will announce this year to grow our regional economies, to further develop the skills and expertise of local people, and to breathe life into the many parts of New Zealand that have been neglected by the current Government. ….

Check out the Fact Sheet. Good stuff!

46 comments on “Labour gets serious about regional development ”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    Labour is serious about regional development. It is proposing a 10 year $200m package of regional initiatives.

    That’s not serious – that’s pathetic.

    If they did $2,000,000,000 per year I might consider it serious.

    And that’s still less than 1% of GDP.

    $20m per year across all of NZ? About $5 per person? Might as well scratch arse – it’d be just as effective.

    • RedLogix 1.1

      The idea is good. Much the same has been done in regional Victoria, along with a deliberate policy to distribute core state sector services and centres out of Melbourne where-ever possible.

      But I agree; on the face of it the amount is risible and unless it’s extraordinarily well targeted and Labour is way luckier than usual … it amounts to spitting upwind into a stiff Tararua nor-wester.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        Very much a good idea but this is another example of NZ of simply not putting in enough resources to support it. And when it fails the government will drop it and then go off and do something else half-arsed.

        See it all the time and it’s so bloody annoying.

        • RedLogix

          It’s all a giant game of pretend. I get why the right does it; it protects their class privilege and interests.

          Why the left does it as well, sometimes even doubling down, really comes down to a matter of authenticity. Just exactly whose interests are being served when Labour comes up with fake policies like this? I’m certain that most Labour/Green MP’s are good people, with mostly good intentions … but the system co-opts them.

          This is the core problem the left has never solved. It purports to serve the interests of the outsiders and underclasses, but in order to do so it must credibly look like part of the governing classes. And too often fails at both.

          Too much establishment and you get a Hilary Clinton, too much outsider and you have Jeremy Corbyn. In this country both Labour and the Greens lack outsider mongrel, while Morgan has it with spades on.

    • Enough is Enough 1.2

      That was my initial reaction as well Draco.

      Is this what we are now calling serious development. What the actual fuck??

      $20M per year to be spent across the Regions – not just one.

      Come on. We can do better than this

    • shorts 1.3

      sounds like a almost direct gift to RocketWerkz who’ve been very critical of lack of support for gaming (refer Day Z developer)

      not a bad thing inn itself but pathetically small amount of money – can we not afford 200 million a year or more?

      • Draco T Bastard 1.3.1

        I do wonder what type of support that Grinding Gear Games got through intial development of Path of Exile. Must have had some from 2006 through to the 2013 release date.

        Oh, and it’s actually quite a good game. The Māori motif and accent is rather refreshing in a game.

    • Bob 1.4

      “$20m per year across all of NZ? About $5 per person? Might as well scratch arse”

      While I completely agree with the entirety of your comment Draco, I am interested to see if you held the same contempt towards the spending of $20M when it came to the Flag referendum? Bearing in mind the flag referendum was a one-off cost and not an annual spend.

  2. james 2

    So – a million a year for 10 years in Dunners.

    I know salaries are cheaper down there – but a million a year for “Centre of Digital Excellence” – seems a tad on the light side.

    I wonder what %age of that million will be sucked up with the “Chair of Computer Gaming at Otago University”

  3. Stunned Mullet 3

    Meh – perhaps it’s a cunning plan to exit Clare Curran…

  4. weka 4

    So does this mean that all those unemployed people in Dunners going forward (due to automation) will have somewhere to go during the day to play computer games?

    Just kidding. I do think Labour needs to explain a bit more about what that all means. I sit outside of that subculture, I get something from the announcement, but I’m guessing there will be quite a few people scratching their heads wondering what it means in reality. The announcement has too much assertion without much backup (if we were to put it in Standardista terms 😉 ).

    As an aside, as someone who supports us powering down not up, I’m curious how to bridge the gap between Labour as a mainstream party needing to promote economic growth and the reality of fast approaching CC and the need to shift to a steady state economy. How do we talk about that in an election year without undermining the potential of a change of govt?

  5. Mrs Brillo 5

    Has to happen, though hopefully with more financial input than this. I’ll support regional initiatives – it’s a start. (Every Little helps ???)

    Two thirds of this country is fed up to the back teeth with being run as a farm for Auckland, and a cheap place to stick beneficiaries.

    And National has no intention of doing anything about the situation. Suits them fine.

    • weka 5.1

      “Two thirds of this country is fed up to the back teeth with being run as a farm for Auckland, and a cheap place to stick beneficiaries.”

      Amen to that.

      “Every Little helps”

      lol, now I’ve got the image of a whole bunch of wee AL clones running round the place with a dry sense of humour and offering a helping hand.

      • Mrs Brillo 5.1.1

        That’s the ticket. From your mouth to God’s ear…

        Well, it was either that or Handy Andy (“cleans up messy countries with the power of liquid lightning” ) !

      • Once was and others etc 5.1.2

        “Every Little helps” – said the old lady as she spat into the ocean.
        a kind of yeah/nah “Rome wasn’t built in a day” sort of thing.

        Shouldn’t we expect more from the alternate government-in-waiting?

        These folk really have been captured eh?
        I became a bit cynical the moment I read the “(CODE)” ekrinumb, then I saw incubator, and was waiting for a “going forward” or two to be chucked in.

        Why do they have to fuckup every good idea they have?

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      Two thirds of this country is fed up to the back teeth with being run as a farm for Auckland

      That’s an outright lie. Most of what the rural sector produces is exported for the benefit of the farm owners. Under present ideological conditions if the rural sector isn’t developing it’s because the farmers aren’t investing in it.

      • Mrs Brillo 5.2.1

        You don’t half talk some cobblers.

        • Draco T Bastard

          It was you talking BS.

          You seem to think that everywhere else supports Auckland – it doesn’t. In fact, Auckland actually subsidises the rest of NZ to the tune of ~$1 billion every year (already linked on this site so go search).

          • Mrs Brillo

            Yep, that’s the attitude I’m talking about.
            Telling me what I think and then talking about something irrelevant.

            I want New Zealand to have balanced regional development, and you are giving us the What About the JAFAs line which we are all fed up with hearing about.
            A little fairness in dividing up the national assets and a few curbs on Auckland sprawl would benefit the whole country. And we are still all in this together — whatever they think in Auckland.

            • DoublePlusGood

              It wasn’t irrelevant, he accurately pointed out where you’d said something false. It is relevant to the discussion that Auckland effectively financially assists the rest of the country.

  6. Bob 6

    I wonder if the decision to base CODE in Dunedin has anything to do with the successful roll out of UFB, (one of National’s flagship initiatives in their first term), and Dunedin being named Gigatown
    Piggybacking off National’s forward planning….?

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      National’s broadband roll out wasn’t forward planning but the necessary and inevitable result of privatising telecommunications with the inherent lack of investment that comes from doing so. If we hadn’t done that I figure that we would have had FttH between five and ten years ago and that would have been across the country.

      • Bob 6.1.1

        Do you actually believe that Draco?
        Do you forget that in 1987 there were still 38,000 party line customers in New Zealand? Also, while the Nordic countries and Japan (similar topographies to NZ) had mobile networks in 1981, we had to wait until 1987 under publicly funded Telecom, what makes you think we would all of a sudden go from being so far behind the times to becoming a world leader?
        Also, you do realise that as part of the UFB roll out, National effectively nationalised by stealth a 50% stake (Crown Fibre Holdings) in New Zealand’s Fibre infrastructure…

        • Draco T Bastard

          Do you actually believe that Draco?

          Yes because I can do the sums.

          In 1987 Telecom had a $300m profit all of which went into improving and extending the network. After the sale of Telecom most of the profit went to the shareholders. In fact, well over $20 billion has gone to the shareholders since.

          Now imagine how good the network would be if that $20 billion had gone into improving it rather going to bludgers.

          Do you forget that in 1987 there were still 38,000 party line customers in New Zealand?


          That was being corrected at the fastest rate physically possible.

          we had to wait until 1987 under publicly funded Telecom

          This is one of the lies that been propagated for the last several decades. Telecom was not publicly funded but was funded by its own profits even while it was still part of the Post Office.

          what makes you think we would all of a sudden go from being so far behind the times to becoming a world leader?

          Because that’s what all those profits that the bludging shareholders have pulled out would have done.

          Also, you do realise that as part of the UFB roll out, National effectively nationalised by stealth a 50% stake (Crown Fibre Holdings) in New Zealand’s Fibre infrastructure…

          It was a massive subsidy to Chorus and the bludging shareholders to correct for the sale of Telecom.

    • McFlock 6.2

      Probably not.

      Dunedin tried hard to win the gigatown thing because it would assist the IT companies already in Dunedin, and enable that cluster to grow. But the university produces a constant stream of graduates with ideas, and there are a number of business incubators as well. Even without gigatown, Dunedin would have been a fair contender.

    • Paul Campbell 6.3

      The gigatown thing is just a stock pumping scheme by Chorus – they have a problem, they’re a big public company with no contact with the genral public (who historically hate them), only a handful of customers (ISPs), none of whom buy stock – so to pump their stock, to put themselves in the public eye, they do silly things like buying screens in Times Square for ads in movie theatres, and holding gigatown contests

      Many other NZ cities (who have someone other than Chorus as a provider) had home gigabit available before the competition was over

  7. Brutus Iscariot 7

    “Chair of Computer Gaming”

    What an initiative!

  8. Bill 8

    Labour gets serious about regional development…there’s a missing full stop and a superfluous ‘S’ in that there heading, right?

    Sorry. Putting the cynicism away.

    So, how much of that $10 million is going to swallowed by admin costs associated with the “funding pool administered by private industry”?

    And given that Europe (according to someone employed in the field) is apparently the place to be for people like ‘games analysts’, what’s the (cough) game plan on that front?

    • shorts 8.1

      hard to compete with some of the European countries… as they’ve established super successful companies on the back of great games – saying that, its a ideas realised industry with low capital costs (compared to most industries), easily exportable (digitally) and would be perfectly suited for weaning us away from some of that raw primary industry we’re tethered to – if only we’d invested and pushed this sort of vision and strategy when it was obvious, as opposed to after the fact – its still doable though but deserves proper investment and strategy

      For example

      “The core industries (game development and services) of Finnish games business reached a turnover of €1800 million in 2014. ”

  9. Nick 9

    Happy for Dunedinites, however I probably would have said regional development – 1 Billion dollars….A nice big round number and has the desired effect of people taking notice.

  10. Siobhan 10

    Well I live in ‘the regions’, and my local Labour candidate is Anna Lorcke. A woman who believes that…
    “The rest of New Zealand could learn a lot from the success of Labour’s world-class Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme in Hawke’s Bay.
    The great results we are achieving in the region through growing more long-term better paying jobs for locals, underpinned by the RSEs, should be heralded as a shining example for other industries to follow.”

    Now I’m sure you can play with statistics to show an increase in Hawkes Bay wages, thanks to the few ‘professionals’ who have moved to the region. But no one can claim that the majority of wages have increased here. In fact, anecdotally I know wages on the orchard have gone down, or require far more work to achieve the same pay packet.

    At the same time house prices..and rents…are increasing at a rapid rate.

    If Labour want to help this region they better have a serious change of policy rather than leaving local workers competing with (also exploited)overseas workers while, at the same time, paying rent to Auckland investors.

    Though I suspect our ‘expansion of skills’ will mean competing for with the world for call centre jobs..

  11. Michael 11

    A Chair of Computer Gaming? That’s really going to get the vote out for Labour in Dunedin. Why not a commitment to health sciences, in the form of a new teaching hospital designed to equip tomorrow’s doctors, nurses, physiotherapists etc with the skills they will need to treat people for the remainder of the 21st century? Of course, that would require real investment of taxpayers’ money and knowledge of the actual needs of the health and university sectors. Evidently, Labour no longer has that knwoledge available to. So computer games it is then.

  12. McFlock 12

    Well, it dovetails nicely with the DCC’s development objectives and the strengths of the university and local industry cluster. So if that approach is typical of the other regional projects, it’s a promising program.

    Not a substitute for nation-wide infrastructure development, housing, or health services policies and so on, but it might be a promising complement to them.

    • Ad 12.1


      As for scale of the $$$, digital games are a highly risky and boom-bus vulnerable industry to put taxpayer money into, so I would want any direct government cash to be very measured.

      I like the focus on attracting top staff to high salaries. That has to be a primary policy purpose of this kind of initiative.

      Also, since it’s an entirely weightless industry, there is nothing to keep the businesses within New Zealand. This has been a perennial problem for previous governments of any colour. So when they leave, they take chunks of our taxed money out of our wallets overseas with them. For no benefit to me or the country.

      So investing it with the University of Otago, as still the best and biggest economic motor for Dunedin and much of Otago, is one good way to keep that business capital circulating here.

      • RedLogix 12.1.1

        The key elements of sustainable regional development are:

        1. An anchor industry that isn’t going to move anytime soon, around which you build a cluster of support businesses and spin-offs.
        2. Effective physical and social infrastructure; telecoms, transport; health, education and low-cost housing.
        3. Strong local govt that invests in the community, local events, clubs, sports, and networks.

        It’s a pretty simple formula; it’s all about attracting and retaining people with skills, energy and commitment, and building strong enduring community around them. Both my partner and I will NEVER chose to live in a big city again; our experience in smaller places like Whakatane, Pukekohe, Masterton and now Ballarat have convinced us they are far more attractive and pleasant places to live IF you are fortunate enough to have a decent job and social skills.

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