Greens outline plan to support tech industries and make devices and connectivity more affordable

The Green Party have outlined plans to increase digital inclusion for those on low incomes and support New Zealand's high-tech sector.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw. Source: Getty

Party co-leader James Shaw made the announcement today during a visit to Springload, one of New Zealand’s leading digital agencies.

Shaw said the "scale" of the country's digital divide has been laid bare over the Covid-19 response, as more people working and studying from home highlighted the issue of unequal access to technology.

“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,” 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.

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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,”  Shaw said.

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.