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Labour on digital

Written By: - Date published: 7:52 am, July 11th, 2014 - 59 comments
Categories: Economy - Tags:

This morning Labour will be announcing it’s Digital Economic Upgrade (ICT policy).  “Streamed live to the world” at 8am at the link above.

As a dedicated member of the programming fraternity and often aghast at the stupidity of the how the government treats the digital community, I want to hear this.

So I will live blog some of this as it goes through.

7:53 First get coffee.

7:59 Pity that Labour don’t allow us to embed this thing properly.

8:04 First problem. How do I watch this damn thing?

8:09 Clare Curran announced a few days ago that they’d be doing a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for the government. That is a good idea because at present government sucks when it comes to having any strategies at all.

8:11 Started on link above.

8:14 Getting seasick. Buy a tripod!!!

8:18 Open source the government

8:19 Exporting the intellectual property. Currently about $7 billion exports. 3rd largest sector in NZ, and fastest growing. It also has jobs.

8:21 Questions.. TPP etc.

8:25 Just got sent this

ICT policy factsheet (pdf)

ICT policy document Jul14 (pdf)

8:29 Usual strange questions for 8am in the morning. Reading the doc.

8:35 The fact sheet image

Digital economic upgrade

8:41 A lot of this is designed to

  • Fix the government waste, in particular the silo code. They need to move to open-source
  • The apprenticeship place is a good idea. Even now we’re running from behind with the training. Hands on works for getting jobs.
  • I like the idea of changing the points system for immigration to make experience as much as degrees. Anyone who works in the sector knows that the experience counts more than training. Training helps, but much of it is obsolete after a decade.
  • Startup support – yes! You need it to get projects started without mortgaging the parents house.

8:52 Finished. Labour – please please do not put that video up for watching.  Rest of the document looks good.

I’ll come back to the rest of this  announcement in comments. It looks like there is a separate announcement to be made on connectivity.

59 comments on “Labour on digital ”

  1. Tom Gould 1

    Picture is jerking all over and the sound almost inaudible. Not a good start …

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    Wtf! Why has someone picked up the camera again?

  3. One Anonymous Bloke 3

    Whoever is responsible for the camera ‘work’? Utterly unwatchable.

  4. One Anonymous Bloke 4

    On the positive side Cunliffe was on the ball.

  5. infused 5

    Open Source the govt?

    Holy lol.

    Have fun with that.

    • lprent 5.1

      There is no particular problem with it. I flipped from microsoft to linux and open source in 2006 for all of my needs. About the only thing that there aren’t that many good alternatives for are games.

      You see companies advertising themselves as microsoft shops these days when job hunting employees. That is because it isn’t where most ICT people want to get employed these days. They want the mix of systems because that is where they see their jobs going to.

      You cross-platform most code these days as a matter of course. Certainly to windows versions, macs, iOS, and android at a minimum.

      • infused 5.1.1

        Swapping a desktop os is one thing. Swapping an entire platform is another.

        Cross platform code isn’t even a problem.

        Where needed, these systems already run on apache/php/ruby whatever anyway.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.2

        About the only thing that there aren’t that many good alternatives for are games.

        Which is the only reason why I still have Windows at all. And now that Steam is porting all the games that they have to Linux it won’t be long before I won’t even need it for that.

  6. lprent 6

    Many of the biggest tech companies in the world, including start-ups with Apple, basements Microsoft and student and Facebook dormitories.were born in garages,

    ‘Garage Grants’
    The variety of grants available from MBIE and NZTE as well as Labour’s R&D tax credits are generally not accessible to those with a creative idea that are just starting out.

    ‘Garage Grants’ will enable and support entrepreneurs in transforming their clever idea into
    something big.

    Successful applicants will receive individual training, mentoring and support from
    successful entrepreneurs, with up to $10,000 to build the first product and start the
    business.

    The fund will be administered through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and
    Employment and via existing accelerator programmes.

    Cost: $3.2 million contestable fund over four years.

    Ok. this is a bloody good idea. A bit like the incubator systems but a lot earlier in the development chain. Most incubator projects are after funding gets found and the steps to commercialism is started. Same idea as their “X Prizes”

    All small change, but useful for getting ideas to a useable form.

    • infused 6.1

      You do know this already exists?

      • lprent 6.1.1

        Depends what you mean. I know of stuff that is not in a particularly useful form and targeted at existing companies already selling.

        I know of things to get people into incubators run by universities.

        I don’t know of anything that starts at the very start of an idea.

        • infused 6.1.1.1

          There is a Wellington ICT incubator already. I forget the details of it.

          You also have grow Wellington and angel investors, both of which I’ve been involved with.

          Wellington ICT incubator is for start ups. Grow Wellington provides support to both, but mainly businesses that are already going.

          http://www.wellingtonnz.com/business/startups/incubators/

          • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1.1

            Yes these incubators exist but all too often the “angels” have no idea what a tech start up actually need (dairy farmers and property developers with a bit of cash who think its fashionable to get into the game) or they’re just looking to leverage a good idea into the next big IPO within 18 months, with limited interest in developing the technology or the organisation organically.

            • yeshe 6.1.1.1.1.1

              +100% CV and worse, the so called ‘angels’ develop only to the point the IP ownership can be re-located to an offshore entity prior to sale to avoid tax on sale of IP which inevitably is to another offshore entity … we lose out twice. after tax payers have funded early development, tax avoided on sale and all jobs go offshore. barmy.

            • infused 6.1.1.1.1.2

              They are broken up in to many people with many backgrounds. Quite a few within IT.

    • Ant 6.2

      “Up to $10,000” seems a little low for kickstarting dev costs

      • Colonial Viper 6.2.1

        It’s very low. Two developer/owners paying themselves minimum wage for 2.5 months, working out of their bedrooms and providing for all other business expenses themselves.

  7. riffer 7

    Well on the plus side, OpenSourcing government will lead to lots of IT jobs.

    • infused 7.1

      Yeah, and a lot of extra expense.

      Most big govt departments have just merged and moved to new DCs on new platforms. It’s cost millions and it’s finally done.

      Hey, let’s go rip all that apart.

      Smart.

      • You_Fool 7.1.1

        Not our fault the NACTs are IT illiterate

        • infused 7.1.1.1

          They aren’t. After years of every department having their own systems, they are now all running on common systems.

          It all works very well.

          • Colonial Viper 7.1.1.1.1

            Doesn’t have to rip anything apart. But it does have major implications for development of the new IRD system.

            • Lanthanide 7.1.1.1.1.1

              I’m sure there are plenty of Open Source tax packages that let you run your own country of 4 million people, while meeting all NZ privacy standards and complex calculations around benefits, sources of income, ACC tax, fringe benefits, imputation credits, excise tax, GST etc, while also being flexible enough to add in new taxes like CGT and carbon tax.

              Alternatively: I’m sure there are many private organisations that would love to employ dozens/hundreds of developers to implement such a system, and then make it open source and give it away for free.

              • infused

                If it was that simple, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

                IRD has something like 2000 VMs (Virtual machines).

                This sort of stuff needs to be specifically designed and designed in a way to scale over cloud infrastructure.

                Off the shelf software stops working once you get to the 50-100 user mark without heavy modifications to the code.

          • politikiwi 7.1.1.1.2

            I’d love to see the evidence for “they are now all running on common systems” – because that’s certainly not my experience in the Government IT sector.

            • infused 7.1.1.1.2.1

              The back end is mostly running at Revera on Microsoft Server 2008/2012, Exchange 2013/Lync etc.

              What’s presented to the staff is a different story.

  8. Ad 8

    Good as a gesture to Internet Party.

    But:

    no position on broadband rollout. This is a key National government initiative, being done across cities now. Cunliffe as previous Minister should understand its importance both to cities and to this governments credibility in economic development.
    no position on second broadband cable. Oddly, mentioned electricity costs, but not broadband costs.
    no position on aggregating Crown agency demand for broadband services, or for the use of Crown agencies in stimulating r & d. Eg common platform development for government departments, sourcing at least part of a job locally, using locals in some of the monumental cockups that Departments have made in the last decade, with all of the squillions that could have been circulated locally
    no position in the role of Universities, course structures, innovation hubs, etcetera
    Ie in general in the more direct role the whole of the public sector can do for digital industry development
    no tilt at school curriculum, which to me could offer English or code as a binary core subject

    I think I’ll stop there.

    I don’t believe this is an empty gesture, but it looks an almost non-instrumental gesture. I want a Labour governments that understands and operates the full range of policy levers available to it.

    • lprent 8.1

      There is a later ICT/communications announcement mentioned somewhere in this one.

      I’d guess that will cover it.

    • lprent 8.2

      There is a later ICT/communications announcement mentioned somewhere in this one.

      I’d guess that will cover it.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.3

      no position on broadband rollout. This is a key National government initiative, being done across cities now.

      Oh, FFS, the last Labour led government started the broadband upgrade process. National then gutted it, as they always do, and told people that they were getting a better deal.

      Tend to agree with you on the rest. Labour are still looking to the private sector to kickstart innovation using tax credits rather than having the government do it – just like the US government does. Their policies will fail just like privatisation failed and for the same reason – the private sector doesn’t do anything unless the government’s paying them. Time to cut out the private sector and just do it as part of government. It’ll be cheaper and more innovative.

      • Colonial Viper 8.3.1

        +100

        why do we need private sector companies – especially foreign ones – cutting corners on NZ infrastructure and shipping tax payer monies offshore.

    • Paul Campbell 8.4

      So this fibre roll out National promised us 2 elections ago …. I’m still waiting ….

      I guess the problem is that Chorus isn’t gouging us enough yet

  9. lprent 9

    And yet, most ICT employers feel that 6+ years of experience is more likely to meet skill needs than a degree and no experience.

    Labour will review the points system for the skills shortage list, with a view to more accurately recognising the value of work experience in Information Technology.

    Damn good idea. Basically ICT people coming out of university or even tech are trained monkeys. Useful only with someone competent wasted leaning over their shoulder and training them how to not screw up. That is why it is so damn hard to get hired straight out of a course.

    Same with the apprenticeship system

    This will help to encourage more people into the industry who were previously put off by the prospect of having to undertake training off-job and in their own time, and prefer the option of ‘learning while earning’.

    Labour has already indicated that, instead of paying young people to go on the dole, we intend to use it to subsidise businesses to take on apprentices. This policy would be available to the Information Technology industry as well.

    It is an awfully big ask for kids going into ICT to spend years training before they find out if they have any real aptitude in a real world environment for computer systems. In my experience most of the people who went through compsci degrees in my various stints at university, probably less than a quarter actually made it their careers after a decade.

    The continuous learning to stay in the ICT game is a real drag for most people. It is about 15-30% of your time per year (more earlier, easier later). A lot easier with the net and google. Still a lot of continuous study and testing. If you don’t do it then you rapidly become unemployable.

    Doing a mix of work and training is a better idea. Even better is that the ones who stay obsessed past the games and into work, can then find out if they want to invest time in a university or tech degree.

    Plus that is going to help a lot on the CV and for getting hired.

    • infused 9.1

      They shouldn’t need extensive training for it. An A+ course then go seek and entry level job. I’ve put heaps of them through my business.

      I’ve never though quals for IT are useful unless you are going in to specialised areas. If so, I’d do these after you gain employment as most employers will pay for them.

      • lprent 9.1.1

        Go and ask any recruiter.

        They don’t have too many problems placing people who have been through uni and did well. They have a hell of a problem placing anyone else. So that is about 5% of the people trained.

        They also have employers complaining that they can’t find anyone to employ,while at the same time there are a hell of glut of trained but no experience unemployable people.

        First question that damn near every employer asks me is if I am willing to “mentor”. I am but I put some pretty strict limits on it – and snap like a bastard if people violate those limits. It takes nearly 6 months to get someone with a compsci degree up to the point that they aren’t a pest to anyone competent. Apparently I’m a rarity for allowing employers to foist the kids on me.

        In actual fact I usually find that the compsci A+ employees are the most painful. They screw up because they think they know how to do things and they’re usually too arrogant to listen before screwing up.

        • infused 9.1.1.1

          The problem is, people doing IT for the money, not because they like IT. This is the big sticking point. The people I employ, all have a passion for IT. Since they have this passion, they generally have quite a good, solid foundation to begin with, as they tend to tinker in their own time.

          Yes, you have to mentor people, that’s just life. Better that, than have them pick up bad traits.

          Most old timers give your argument though, so it’s not surprising.

          • Colonial Viper 9.1.1.1.1

            The problem is, people doing IT for the money, not because they like IT. This is the big sticking point.

            Yes this is a major point.

            And it flows through to the single criticism I have of Labour’s one pager above. It comes through in phrases like “transforming a big idea into successful business”. Also another common phrasing you sometimes here “x $B of technology exports.” Which is all great, but as a perspective starts to limit the value of ICT to what clever technology endeavours can do to make capitalists money.

            NZ companies are already getting involved in developing technology for the security and surveillance industrial complex for instance. Which is of course now a multi-billion dollar industry. (Funded by tax payers dollars from around the world) Oh we as capitalists wouldn’t want to miss out on all these opportunities, would we?

            Where is our values statement or political position around this as a nation.

            Why don’t we have a vision of exporting clean, high purity, organic food, but also technology which has 100% privacy and security built into it, and no back doors?

            IMO real creativity in technology, and particularly in the open source community but also in examples of how the likes of Apple started up, doesn’t come from trying to create the next Angry Birds or FaceBook billion dollar IPO. It comes from a passion for making life and society better.

            So my question – where is the space to create valuable, innovative technology – and to make it available for free. Or to create self sustaining co-operative structures of technology development so that professionals do not have to keep going cap in hand to capitalists to do the kind of work and solve the kinds of problems that they are interested in.

            If Labour says it supports Open Source everything, then that capability and opportunity must be there.

            • infused 9.1.1.1.1.1

              “Why don’t we have a vision of exporting clean, high purity, organic food, but also technology which has 100% privacy and security built into it, and no back doors?”

              We already do. The company just won a huge international award. Can’t remember the name though.

              Apple is a bad example… they almost went bust years ago, and basically got bailed out by Microsoft. Microsoft kept them alive as kind of an internal joke.

              The reason Apple took off in recent times is they ditched their 2000 products and started to focus on just a few.

              Microsoft is probably a better example. But there’s heaps. WordPress being one. It’s filling a void with an innovative, easy to use product.

          • Draco T Bastard 9.1.1.1.2

            The problem is, people doing IT for the money, not because they like IT.

            That’s the society that we got from the neo-liberal revolution of the 4th Labour government. Every government since has maintained and strengthened that attitude. It is cause celebrè for this government as ideologised in the 90 day fire at will act.

        • Lanthanide 9.1.1.2

          Actually I think infused might have meant the certification called A+, not someone who got A+ marks in university.

          http://certification.comptia.org/getCertified/certifications/a.aspx

          A+ is about the equivalent of 6th form though so not really sure if that’s truly what he meant, because 6th formers typically aren’t worth hiring…

          • infused 9.1.1.2.1

            I did. Sorry if that was not clear.

            I’d hire someone with the passion and A+ over someone with a uni degree who’s just doing it for the money.

            I had one of those people. Clear difference in mind sets.

  10. lprent 10

    And yet, most ICT employers feel that 6+ years of experience is more likely to meet skill needs than a degree and no experience.

    Labour will review the points system for the skills shortage list, with a view to more accurately recognising the value of work experience in Information Technology.

    Damn good idea. Basically ICT people coming out of university or even tech are trained monkeys. Useful only with someone competent wasted leaning over their shoulder and training them how to not screw up. That is why it is so damn hard to get hired straight out of a course.

    Same with the apprenticeship system

    This will help to encourage more people into the industry who were previously put off by the prospect of having to undertake training off-job and in their own time, and prefer the option of ‘learning while earning’.

    Labour has already indicated that, instead of paying young people to go on the dole, we intend to use it to subsidise businesses to take on apprentices. This policy would be available to the Information Technology industry as well.

    It is an awfully big ask for kids going into ICT to spend years training before they find out if they have any real aptitude in a real world environment for computer systems. In my experience most of the people who went through compsci degrees in my various stints at university, probably less than a quarter actually made it their careers after a decade.

    The continuous learning to stay in the ICT game is a real drag for most people. It is about 15-30% of your time per year (more earlier, easier later). A lot easier with the net and google. Still a lot of continuous study and testing. If you don’t do it then you rapidly become unemployable.

    Doing a mix of work and training is a better idea. Even better is that the ones who stay obsessed past the games and into work, can then find out if they want to invest time in a university or tech degree.

    Plus that is going to help a lot on the CV and for getting hired.

    • karol 10.1

      Lynn, you will like [/sarc] Steven Joyce’s informed (?) response:

      Mr Joyce says Labour have truly missed the mark on ICT skills.

      “The demand in ICT is primarily for graduate-level software designers and programmers, not in the trades. That’s why we’re investing nearly $30 million dollars in our ICT grad schools for final year undergraduate and postgraduate training. They would be far better to endorse that approach,” Mr Joyce says.

      “And the party that has spent the last couple of months saying they need to tighten up on migration is now saying they want to encourage more migration in ICT. They need to make up their minds. Do they want to encourage skilled migrants or not?”

      • lprent 10.1.1

        Pretty clear that Joyce knows fuckall about ICT.

        The grads are just one bit. For instance I don’t think I have ever seen a university trained grad running around in a server farm. Or putting fibre into companies.

        Currently we import a lot of ICT immigrants with too little real world experience, and we virtually don’t import the ones without degrees. Outsight stupid.

      • Paul Campbell 10.1.2

        I’ve worked in this business for 35 years – 20 of them in Silicon Valley working for startups, I’ve interviewed/hired a lot of people over the years – fresh PhDs just out of Uni are possibly more difficult to use then fresh BScs – if anything there’s more ego that needs to be subsumed so you can learn to work with a team (OK I’m generalising a bit but it’s a real issue).

        I think if you want to better transition CompSci students into industry I think we’d do far better if we encouraged an internship year (rather more like an Engineering degree) which gets kids working in industry for most of a year, this allows students to learn about the real world, get some realistic expectations, something on their resume, and makes it easier for companies to try people out for a bit (at work [I still contract in the US] we take on 2-3 interns every summer and on average hire one of them).

        The local Polytech’s BIT degree involves a final year with a very real world project that puts them out into the community, I’ve been quite impressed with some of the students and their projects and have helped some of them working to turn their projects into real world.

        I think there’s a great (long term) advantage to having a CompSci degree – this is a business where you have to reinvent yourself every 5-10 years, you need that deeper background so you can change and adapt and keep the job interesting.

  11. karol 11

    What a strange time to live stream a new policy. How many people were they expecting to be watching between 8-9am on a weekday?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 11.1

      What serendipity that they can regard it as an alpha version. I hope they’ll live stream everything from now on, and buy a tripod.

  12. lprent 12

    Many countries provide a tax incentive to businesses investing in plant and equipment. This is done through a mechanism called accelerated depreciation.

    Labour has announced our intention to introduce a targeted accelerated depreciation regime, with one
    of the first industry areas covered being advanced manufacturing.

    This industry group includes the ICT Manufacturing industry, including the manufacture of physical devices or components that contain a software component, typically embedded in the device or product. The sector also encompasses computer and electronic office equipment, electric cables and wires, communication equipment and other electronic, professional and scientific equipment.

    Damn good idea. In the last decade the emphasis in NZ and most of the dollars earned in exports from ICT have shifted to two things.

    • Software as a hardware device
    • Software as a service

    Both currently ship most of their “manufacturing” offshore apart from the prototyping. Much of that will continue because of things like PCB costs as tail ends are so much lower than local, and there is so little point in running a SaaS business off local server farms for overseas because of our piss-poor cable situation.

    I have worked in both situations. A lot of near development and “production” work goes offshore because we can’t find adequate local plant even for small stuff.

    But there is lot of assembly work and work for the austrailasian markets that doesn’t get done here because the costs are so great for installation.

    This may help.

  13. Jenny 13

    Mana on digital

    Waatea News

    Te Wahanga Parakuihi Interviews Mana leader Hone Harawira, for Waatea Radio. (not time stamped.)

    TWP: The IT scene has come under some scrutiny the last day or two, you obviously weren’t at the net Hui, [Harawira was stranded by bad weather up North]
    I have just finished speaking to Ian Taylor and his talk about how we must factor in the digital age for the future of our Tamariki and Rangatahi was inspiring. And you have acknowledged that too, with your hook up with the big fella, with Kim? So you have obviously sensed, and the connections within Mana have recognised, that IT and the digital age is going to create some opportunities, and it is going to become really important for Tangata Whenua in the years ahead.
    Do you think that you were just a touch ahead of the game?

    Harawira: Well actually it’s our kids who are ahead of the game. And the whole Mana Internet Party link up came about as a direct result of some of the kids up here. One of them in particular came up to me and said, “Matua would you mind if I left Mana and joined the Internet Party?”

    I was, “What?”

    Anyway, I went away and had a really good think about it. Talked to some other kids.
    It became clear to me, that our kids are living in that world. And either we are going to be where our kids are aiming, so as, not to tell them what to do, those days are gone, but at least provide some guidance and help define Tikanga for the new world, or we are going to get left behind with everybody else.

    Then talking with Kim Dotcom. Man, where he is thinking in terms of all this digital stuff is mind blowing really. And I can’t wait for this relationship to develop to a point where our kids are not just living in that world but are driving that world – coming up with ideas to connect to the second cable if it comes – creating opportunities to put them on the highway to the world. All that sort of stuff.

    When I talk to my granddaughter, She’s 17 she’s at AUT, about some of the things she’s thinking about, and some of the things they do, it’s really, really positive. And I am glad that Mana is where we are, and I think it’s where Maori people need to be. And I sincerely hope that we are able to go to the next election with enough numbers to make that Maori digital connection a reality in New Zealand politics as well. Because I don’t want it to be just something that we talk about out here, I want it to be something that happens inside parliament so that we can drive things along, so that our kids are connected to the world.

  14. cricklewood 14

    The only thing I have heard of this until now was on the Radio News at 10am which consisted for the most part of something along the lines of
    Labour has announced that it will open a govt funded app store to allow a pathway for people to enter the app market, Labour ICT spokeswoman Claire Curran said she didn’t know how much it would cost but she was sure it wouldn’t be much
    Hostile media… But if that’s what she actually said to a reporter WTF

    • infused 14.1

      “Claire Curran said she didn’t know how much it would cost but she was sure it wouldn’t be much”

      lol?

    • lprent 14.2

      It is actually a app store for the government to purchase software from rather than the way the reporter reported it. I guess the journo didn’t read the policy doc.

      The policy doc linked to up above has values in for different parts and the extra funding required. That particular section says “Cost: Funded from within baselines”. So will come from within existing budgets by changing the means of how the government currently purchases software (ie their current systems really suck – I’ve seen it).

      • cricklewood 14.2.1

        That makes more sense… surely Claire Curran could have said as much rather than a snappy sound bite to reinforce the Labour is profligate theme …

  15. Draco T Bastard 15

    establishing ‘Garage Grants’ to support entrepreneurs in taking the first step in
    transforming a big idea into a successful business

    An interesting idea. Personally, I’d prefer a high level ($400 per week or higher) UBI and for the government to own the needed infrastructure such as fab plants that anyone can use. Then people wouldn’t need government grants to be entrepreneurial.

    reforming ICT project management across Government departments

    Need a government ICT department that actually does all that across all government departments instead of having each government department trying to do it for itself. The government is large enough to support such a department. This department would also provide the cloud services that government will need.

    • Francis 15.1

      That’s exactly what I’ve always thought. They can even use this department to create their own systems, rather than outsourcing to overseas companies (eg NovaPay)…

  16. Colonial Viper 16

    Verizon look set to lose major German govt telephony/ICT contracts because of their complicity with NSA spying.

    NZ is now very well known throughout the world as a FVEYEs partner.

    If the country is serious about becoming a major international ICT player then the business threats and opportunities around this changed landscape need to be seriously considered.

  17. millsy 17

    DTB: we had a government ICT department. It was called Government Computing Services. The Bolger administration sold it off and it became EDS which folded into Unisys. We also had Health Computing Services which was sold at the same time.

    The old NZPO also did some computing work prior to it getting chopped. I believe they had a service called PACNET which was an internet type service.

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