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Corporate braindrain under National

2000 web site"The price of National's lacklustre economic management and complete failure to grasp that the future lies with the knowledge industries is creating a "corporate brain drain" which is costing this country dear," Labour finance spokesperson Michael Cullen said today.

Dr Cullen was responding to the announcement this morning that Auckland e-commerce software firm, exo-net, is relocating across the Tasman.

"exo-net is only the latest in a line of promising high-tech companies we have lost to Australia. Only last month, Telemedia - a company specialising in software design for the telecommunications sector - said it was leaving.

"And hi-tech American corporate, Motorola, is still deciding whether to take the risk of setting up its third Australasian facility here instead of in Australia.

"Motorola Pacific vice president Ron Nissen told the Dominion the underlying concern he had was "how strongly New Zealand as a nation and as a society is focused on having a significant presence in this whole information economy/knowledge-based business."

"The answer to Mr Nissen's question is that National's commitment is weak. You only have to look at its "Five Steps" package - all glitzy wrapping, no substance.

"But Labour has understood and been talking about the need to shift to a knowledge-based economy for years and has developed the policies to match," Dr Cullen said.

"Through our industry development programme, we will deliver a more sympathetic tax treatment for R&D, provide a range of finance options to assist innovative firms to move into new technologies, and will actively encourage high technology companies to locate and invest in New Zealand.

"We will also establish a small business research fund, provide additional research funding to the tertiary sector, work with employers to extend the Graduate Research in Industry Fund and set up "centres of excellence" where graduates and university staff can help prepare their work for commercial application.

"At the primary and secondary school level, we will ensure all teachers are trained in the use of information technology, investigate bulk-buying options for hardware, software and networking systems and work in partnership with business to provide interactive education," Dr Cullen said.

"We are the only party going into the election campaign with a specific policy on eCommerce. We are committed to promoting eCommerce by requiring all government agencies to notify their purchasing needs on the Industrial Supplies Office electronic system and by developing an eCommerce guide for small and medium-sized business.

"This list is not exhaustive. But it is a start. And it is desperately overdue after nine years of wasted and missed opportunities under National," Dr Cullen said.

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