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New Zealand Technology Industry Association (NZ Tech) conducted its AGM yesterday in Auckland. The AGM brought together vendors and industry stakeholders to discuss progess of NZ Tech and its initiatives.
At the end of the AGM, the association facilitated a political panel that brought together representatives of some of the political parties in the country to discuss their ICT policy and detail the roadmap if they were chosen to lead the country in the next election.
Candace Kinser, CEO of NZ Tech, introduced the panelists and gave them each eight minutes to elaborate on their policy stand to the audience.
Amy Adams, minister of IT and communications, and representative of the ruling National Party, elaborated on the work done on the UFB and RBI initiatives, as well as moves to set up ICT graduate schools, in her eight minutes.
Clare Curran, Labour MP and ICT spokesperson, expressed Labour's views and stressed on policy initiatives such as the apprenticeship programme.
Gareth Hughes of the Green Party, focused on the need to fuel the ICT sector in the country, and to work together for a profitable future.
Laila Harre, head of the Internet MANA party expressed her views on how technology should be endemic to government processes and should pervade all departments.
There was not a whisper to be heard in the audience as they listened to each party member's eight minute pitch.
The panel debated on issues relating to the tech sector, including popular topics such as internet accessibility, digital divide, internet privacy and a digital bill of rights among others.
The audience threw tough questions at the panel and this prompted for more discussion around the skills levels in the country, ICT training and addressing school children to get them interested in technology
Rod Drury, founder and CEO of Xero, made a vehement attack on Kim Dotcom and the Internet MANA party. He also said that the government was too focused on doing incremental elements that was "boring." He encouraged the parties to work together and pointed out that there was an opportunity to transform NZ completely with the use of ICT.
Drury also stated that the formation of the CTO role was necessary to take discussions between the private sector and the government forward in a more fruitful manner. He stated that the current discussion process was too dissipated with too many disparate decision makers across government agencies.
Laila Harre, head of the Internet MANA party, stood up for herself and her party after Drury's attack, defending their principles and their stand in ICT.
The political panel went later into the evening than anticipated, though much of the industry left with little insight into how some of the promises of the policies would be delivered by any of the parties.