27 Oct 2011
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Fibre Watch: Rucking politicians

The Rugby World Cup finished ... nek minnit the election campaign began.

Yes folks, the politicians believe they’ve been sitting on the bench long enough and from now through to Election Day on November 26 it’s going to be all about them.

And as far as the scintillating topic of information and communications technology strategy goes, Labour was so excited about sharing its vision that it didn’t even wait for the final French banishing. The party released its ICT policy last week.

The full 11-page policy document can be downloaded as a PDF here, and you can read a commentary on it from the party’s indefatigable techno-spokeswoman, Clare Curran - along with some argy-bargy from a mix of comment-posting detractors and supporters - here.

The most contentious part of the policy has been what was quickly dubbed an "internet tax” – Labour’s intention, as the policy puts it, to "investigate the viability of a small copyright levy on Internet access, which would develop the digital platform for accessing Kiwi content."

On a subject closer to this column’s heart, the party is also proposing an independent review of the rollout of National’s Ultra Fast Broadband initiative.

There isn’t the space here to delve into the policy in any details, or to look at what other parties, including the Greens and the Maori Party have already put in front of voters.

But anyone wanting to immerse themselves in the full spectrum of current ICT issues and the various parties’ policies should revisit last week’s NetVision political debate organised by InternetNZ. The debate included some solid sparring between Curran and ICT Minister Steven Joyce, as well as much enlightening input from the minor parties.

Video and audio files of the debate can be downloaded here, although be warned, the video files are huge, and downloading the full debate will chew through more than half a gigabyte. So stick with the audio unless you have a decent data cap. 

Which raises an interesting point: perhaps for the benefit of democratic enlightenment the electorate should have unmetered access to download political debate web videocasts for free.

Maybe that’s something that one of the political parties might like to work into its ICT manifesto.

Image: at the NetVision debate are National's Steven Joyce, the Maori Party's Kaapua Smith, Labour's Clare Curran, the Greens' Gareth Hughes, and Act's Peter McCaffrey.

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