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InternetNZ urges political parties to commit to digital inclusion action plan

InternetNZ is calling on all the New Zealand political parties to sign on to its five point plan for digital inclusion ahead of this year’s election.

The five point plan sets out the priority areas where InternetNZ says Government can best direct its efforts and investments to improve digital inclusion in New Zealand.

InternetNZ’s chief executive officer Jordan Carter says the Government’s Digital Inclusion Blueprint recognises the importance of digital inclusion, but more concrete action is needed.

"The five point plan provides a recipe for the investment needed to make a difference in the lives of New Zealanders who aren’t connected to the online world," says Carter.

"We want to see political parties sign up to implementing the plan if they are part of the next government." he says.

According to InternetNZ, so far only the Green Party has committed to implement the plan.

More than 50 organisations have also signed onto the plan, pledging their support to achieve the goals, it says.

Carter says the aim of the plan is to present a shared understanding of digital inclusion priorities, now, as New Zealand is battling with the implications of COVID-19, and for the longer term wellbeing and economic prosperity of New Zealanders.

"Successive governments have done a good job of investing in Internet infrastructure through the Ultra Fast Broadband and Rural Broad Initiatives," he says.

"We have also seen some really great initiatives from government, telcos, and non-government organisations to get connectivity and devices to people during the COVID-19 lockdown," adds Carter.

"However, affordable connectivity and accessible technology are still not available to many New Zealanders."

The plan identifies five areas for action, including:
- Affordable connectivity
- Getting devices to people who can’t afford them, and addressing accessibility barriers
- Wrap around support for the newly connected
- Digital skills for displaced workers and our small businesses
- Longer term Internet resilience

It also identifies which Government agencies could be responsible for leading each action point, and emphasises the need for cross-agency engagement and coordination. This is designed to make implementing the plan simple to implement, according to InternetNZ.

"This plan will help Government make a difference on digital inclusion," Carter says. 
"And we hope that whatever the outcome of the election, there can be a national commitment to action in this area," he adds. 

Those interested can see the full digital inclusion five point plan online here.