A meeting last week between United leader Peter Dunne, the Prime Minister and Communications Minister Maurice Williamson may lead to Dunne’s private member’s bill on year 2000 compliance yet seeing the light of day.
The bill has been buried in the ballot process where private bills are introduced only if they win a ballot against other private bills.
Prime Minister Bolger directed Dunne and Williamson to hold a series of discussions on the issue, beginning this week.
He’s understood to be concerned not so much about the implications for larger organisations, many of which have year 2000 programmes in place, but small businesses.
There are 175,000 small businesses in New Zealand, many of which could go under if year 2000 problems prevent them from invoicing and receiving payment after the turn of the century.
It’s been estimated that the cost of year 2000 compliance to New Zealand businesses with 10 or more staff will be in the region of $1.3 billion.
Dunne has based his bill on Swedish material and a proposed UK bill. However, the British legislation, which would have forced companies there to update their computer systems to be 2000-compliant, was killed off when a general election was called. In Britain some groups opposed the bill on the grounds that it would have placed an undue burden on companies and was impractical.