Taxing multinational giants Google and Facebook to boost Hawke's Bay businesses could be "right at the top" of the list for discussion when the National Party formulates a policy to put forward at the next General Election.

During roundtable discussions with National party broadcasting, communications and digital media spokeswoman Melissa Lee at the Ahuriri Tech Collective in Napier, some of Hawke's Bay's top tech companies voiced concerns over the lack of tax being paid by multinationals.

Being a former television producer for regional programmes, a "level playing field" was something she could support, she said.

"Obviously, taxation is not my field but this has given me a chance to think about things to have a discussion with my colleagues, and it will help us in devising where we actually go next."


The meeting heard a "bizarre" lack of taxation and regulation of large multinational media companies in the New Zealand market was definite "concern" within the region's tech and digital media companies.

Concerns were raised that some Hawke's Bay companies were paying "zero tax", even after large sums of money from New Zealand had been put through Google and Facebook from company media spends.

That also meant excessive amounts advertising spend was being taken away from local media companies.

Lee was told the prevalence of multinationals was having a huge impact on the local media market, with local publications suffering because of that.

"Some form of regulation" was needed to balance out the market so that local media companies might stand a chance against multinational social media companies.

Lee said she those regulation concerns would be "right on top" of her findings from the meeting.

 Melissa Lee, MP, National Party spokesperson for broadcasting, communications and digital media, listening to concerns of the Ahuriri Tech Collective. Photo / Duncan Brown
Melissa Lee, MP, National Party spokesperson for broadcasting, communications and digital media, listening to concerns of the Ahuriri Tech Collective. Photo / Duncan Brown

Other concerns raised during the meeting also included the need for more regional news and media, and an end to the "Auckland bias" in mainstream media, as well as "privatising" the resource consent process.

The need for better access for Hawke's Bay companies to enter the telecommunications market dominated by Spark, 2Degrees and Vodafone was also raised.

At present costs were prohibitive for other telecommunications companies wanting to install or rent infrastructure, the meeting heard.

It was suggested something needed to be done to allow for more innovation from smaller companies to improve New Zealand's mobile telecommunications abilities. That would also enable businesses to better use mobile platforms.

Lee also heard discontent that news of the region's "huge successes" was not being covered in the major centres, where people had "no idea" what was happening in Hawke's Bay.

Lee took part in discussions with Ahuriri Tech Collective members and other invited guests in order to gain insights into digital issues from Hawke's Bay Tech Collective members, after she approached the Wallace Development Company, which manages the Bridge St tech hub.

"The Hawke's Bay Tech Collective, which has successfully brought together a number of leading technology companies and remote tech individuals who now work side by side in the converted purpose built building, provides the perfect location for Ms Lee to meet with a number of tech leaders at once, and hear their views," Wallace Development Company development manager Mike Walker said.

Representatives from NOW, Xero, Yellow, Folkl, Orton Property Management, Re-Leased software company and Wallace Development Company attended the roundtable discussion.

"I'm doing lots of visits to places like to find out what your desires are and what you require from a government to assist you," Lee said.