Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Cunliffe takes up tech role

David Cunliffe. Photo / Marty Melville
David Cunliffe. Photo / Marty Melville

David Cunliffe naming himself as Labour's information and communications technology spokesman has been welcomed as a signal the sector and its role in the economy is well respected.

The move is also a sign the Leader of the Opposition plans to keep the heat on the Government over its proposed intervention in the copper broadband market.

Mr Cunliffe yesterday named himself as Labour's ICT spokesman in his reshuffle of the party.

The role was previously held by Dunedin MP Clare Curran, who will remain as an associate in the portfolio. Kris Faafoi was also named as associate ICT spokesman.

Mr Cunliffe said the move showed Labour took technology issues "extremely seriously".

He said there was "huge difference in economic framing" between Labour and National, whose strategy involved growing the volume of primary resources produced.

"It's nobody's idea of a strategy that will create high-value jobs and high wages. Labour, by contrast, believes that we need to have a high-value, high-knowledge economy and that rather than just milking more cows we want more money out of every bucket of milk. That requires research, development, innovation and it requires technology."

Managing director of the Technology Investment Network Greg Shanahan welcomed the announcement and said the sector was becoming a "critical part of the debate about growing the economy".

Industry group internetNZ also welcomed the move and said giving Cunliffe the portfolio "shows a healthy respect for the ICT sector, one that it deserves".

Cunliffe also said he was "looking forward to shining some sunlight" on the rollout of the ultra-fast broadband scheme that was requiring the Government to "step over" the Commerce Commission's regulation of the copper broadband market.

The Government signalled it would intervene in this area after Chorus complained that the commission's proposed regulation would hinder the uptake of fibre services being rolled out as part of the UFB scheme.

- NZ Herald

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