The National Party is sharply ramping up its use of the Internet in time for a Website relaunch the day before its national conference on July 31.
New features will include the ability to sign up for party membership online, and personal pages and email addresses for all 44 of the party's MPs. The lack hitherto of public email addresses for government MPs has long been a bone of contention in the Internet community.
"All the addresses will be through the national.org.nz domain, and mail will then be forwarded to the MPs Parliamentary boxes," says party spokesman David Farrar. "We'll be quite proud to have the facility to email any National MP - although we won't provide the facility for people to email all 44 of them at once!"
"We're quite keen to make the Internet part of our overall communications and information strategy, rather than a separate project," says Farrar. "We've had reports to that effect endorsed by the national executive."
As part of the revamp, National has shifted its hosting from Xtra to Actrix Networks. Farrar says the party's Web team is about halfway through 250 new HTML pages, but "some of the MPs have got quite excited and want more than one page each, and stuff on their local city, so there's quite a bit to do."
He says the new site will be "less political" than it was during last year's election campaign, and aimed more at being of use to party members.
"We're quite keen to make the Internet part of our overall communications and information strategy, rather than a separate project. We've had reports to that effect endorsed by the national executive.
"We're going to be adding a lot more to make a resource for party members, who'll be able to download the constitution and handbooks and register for conferences," says Farrar. "People will also be able to become members online. It can be very difficult sometimes to join something like a political party - you phone someone up and they tell you to phone someone else and we have to send the receipt out and so on."
As part of the upgrade, National Party headquarters will also go to a permanent, rather than a dial-up Internet connection.
The Labour Party, whose Website drew praise before the election has also, introduced a new feature online - a weekly Web publication called FrontLines, which is presumably inspired by Act's newsheet The Goss, but offers no gossip and a more measured prose style.