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ICT Critical for Growth

18 July, 2002

Information and Communication Technologies – Critical for Growth

Information and communication technologies are critical for New Zealand’s economic growth, said Minister for Information Technology Paul Swain this morning.

Addressing an Information Technology Association of New Zealand breakfast meeting, Mr Swain said that if the Government is to achieve its goal of lifting New Zealand back into the top half of the OECD ICT must be used to add value to our traditional strengths such as agriculture and tourism.

“Central to the Government’s goals of higher economic growth and a knowledge economy is its Growth and Innovation Strategy. As well as focussing on the business environment, direct foreign investment and skills and talent the strategy identifies three areas that are critical to New Zealand’s future. These three areas – information and communication technologies (ICT), biotechnology and the creative industries - are dynamic industries in their own right. Critically, they are also enablers across the whole economy.

“A vibrant New Zealand ICT industry not only creates jobs and earns foreign exchange but also benefits kiwi companies in other sectors through access to world-class technology.”

Recognising that the hands-off leave it to the market approach of the late 1980s and 1990s has not delivered the Government has launched a number of initiatives in its first term aimed at creating conditions in which ICT can thrive, said Mr Swain. These include:

- The E-Commerce Summit in 2000 followed by eight regional E-Commerce events and the formation of an E-Commerce Action Team.
- The Government’s E-Commerce Strategy, incorporating its E-Government programme.
- Legislation such as last year’s Telecommunications Act, the Electronic Transactions Bill and anti-hacking legislation aimed at creating an enabling regulatory environment.
- The National Broadband Project which will see most schools and communities gain access to broadband internet by 2003 and all schools and communities gain access by 2004.
- The recently formed ICT Taskforce, due to report back to the Government and industry in August, aimed at coming up with innovative ideas on issues such as capital raising, skills shortages and the international marketing of New Zealand technology.

“Under Labour the foundations of the knowledge economy have already been put in place, said Mr Swain. “Now we need to build on those foundations. A vote for Labour is a vote for a party that recognises the importance of ICT to the nation’s economy.”

Ends

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