A new organisation, representing the technology industry, has government's attention.
Industry bodies meet tonight to develop a jointly-run High Tech Council with a cohesive voice to lobby government. Coordinated by the New Zealand Intellectual Capital Foundation (NZInc), representatives of EXPANZ (the Electronic Exporters Association), NZSA (Software Association) and TENZ (Telecommunications Exporters) will meet to discuss how the council should operate.
Finance Minister Bill English and Commerce Minister Max Bradford have "said if we come to them with an industry voice, they will listen", says NZInc founder John Blackham. "So we need to forget the boundaries between us — software, hardware, electronics and so on — and gather together to talk about the structure we need."
The purpose of the council is to "provide a collaborative forum and voice for the issues affecting the growth of the sector", says NZInc director of marketing Vivienne Feigen.
Those issues, she says, include education, "to create a supply of talented New Zealanders who can be employed or can start their own businesses", and policy development to reflect the fast-growing sectors' needs.
"Single companies in our sector export more than the total wine industry, but we fail to command the attention of ministers," she says.
If there had been a joint sector lobby group when Motorola came looking for an R&D site, she says, "we could have presented a collaborative view to sell New Zealand".
Other industry groups can join the council. "We're not looking at replacing any existing organisations — we're looking at ways of extending the umbrella."