Monday, December 17, 2012

The Greens' IT policy

While the political establishment appears to be going to sleep in anticipation of the holidays, the Greens have been hard at work preparing an IT policy [PDF]. Which probably sounds odd to those who think of the Greens as being anti-technology luddites, but as they point out, the IT industry is comparatively clean; it doesn't use carbon (at least, not here), doesn't fill our rivers with shit, runs on renewable electricity, and employs five times more people (and makes seven times more of an economic contribution) than National's favoured mining sector. Boosting it is a way of growing our economy and raising our living standards which doesn't impact on the environment - which is a really good idea if you want to shift our economy to a more sustainable pathway.

As for the actual policy, they're suggesting taking a cornerstone stake in a second international fibre-optic link, to ensure both competition and redundancy in case of failure. This is priced at $100 million, but as they point out, that's just 0.8% of the amount National has wasted on its "Roads of National Significance". national would no doubt complain that investment should be left to the market, but the market has failed to provide this basic infrastructure, therefore its the government's job to step in - just as it did for electricity and railways in their day.

Secondly, they're pushing changes to government procurement, to push them towards local providers for IT services, and to use open standards and open source software where possible. Finally, they want to reverse Nationals' proposed change to the Patents Bill, and outlaw software patents.

These are all good ideas, and I'd like to see them implemented. And isn't it good to see a party which believes government can take an active role in economic development for a change, rather than just throwing up its hands and leaving everything to the market?