Follow government lead, says PM

The government is taking a lead in e-commerce but it is up to business and everyone else to follow, says Helen Clark.

The government is taking a lead in e-commerce but it is up to business and everyone else to follow, says Helen Clark (pictured above at the launch of the government’s new portal in Auckland last week).

The prime minister rejected a Global Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum that says New Zealand is slipping in economic and technology rankings.

“Paul Swain [the IT Minister] has been active with e-commerce, getting the new legislation in place. We just have to keep motivating and encouraging business and the community to get on board,” she says.

The World Economic Forum last week claimed New Zealand had slipped from 11th in 2001 to 27th in 2002, in terms of technology, compared with Australia on 9th. For overall economic competitiveness, New Zealand slipped from 10th to 16th, with technology helping the US and Finland keep the top two spots.

Clark says other surveys, such as those covering internet use, show New Zealand “on top of the world” but “other people are moving fast as well”.

New Zealand has many advantages, she says, such as open markets and being adaptive to technology.

“Government can lead but others have to walk through the open door we planned,” she says.

The portal links 90 central and local government agencies and has information on more than 3500 services.

Clark says businesses will benefit from it by being able to do more work online.

“For business, time is money. If you can access information quickly, that helps keep costs down. Small businesses can save on form filling. If it’s online, it’s going to be more efficient,” she says.

The portal, created and developed in New Zealand, has a significant Linux component, but does not show a government shift to open source, despite other Linux schemes in development, says Brendan Boyle, director of the State Services Commission’s e-government Unit.

“We focus on open standards [rather than open source],” Boyle says.

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