NZ politicians on their parties’ startup policies

I organised a Lean Startup Meetup today exploring New Zealand political parties’ policies related to startups.

Jonathan Young (National), Gareth Hughes (Greens), Vikram Kumar (Internet Mana), and Clare Curran (Labour) all presented their parties’ positions.

I made an audio recording of the session, which you can either download (mp3, 21MB) or play right here:


Photo credit: @Builtinwgtn

Main points –

Jonathan Young:

  • Innovation is the catalyst for economic development
  • Important for government to be as nimble and sharp as the startup sector
  • The formation of MBIE was important, as it brought many disparate agencies together for the benefits of companies
  • The main people leading government – John Key and Steven Joyce – are both experienced private sector businessmen [sic]
  • Recent announcements are beneficial to startups, eg entrepreneur work visas, cashout policy, black hole expenditure, crowdfunding.

Gareth Hughes:

  • ICT is a priority for the Greens – it’s the future for NZ
  • The development of the ICT sector must be supported by government leadership, including
  • Having a government CTO
  • A Digital Rights Commissioner in the Human Rights Commission
  • Repealing the GCSB ammendments and TICS acts, as well as closing Wahopai
  • Extension of NZVIF
  • Support for organisations light Lightning Lab and The ICEHOUSE
  • Free wifi and public transport

Clare Curran:

  • Startups are part of something much bigger than anyone realises – they’re a critical part of the economy, and the fastest growing part of the economy
  • The ICT sector is at the heart of Labour’s economic development plans
  • We’re facing long-term skill shortages which can only be filled with immigration
  • We have infrastructure issues that need fixing
  • Government procurement must give local companies a decent chance
  • The soon-to-be-announced policy is comprehensive and joined up

Vikram Kumar:

  • The difference between the Internet Party and the rest is similar to the difference between Xero and MYOB – the Internet party was born in the cloud
  • All Internet party policies are ICT policies
  • There are “table stakes” which the government needs to get right as a basis for everything else: provisioning a second cable into NZ and a policy of no government backdoors
  • How do we get, grow, and sustain startups?
    • Free tertiary education
    • Scaling things we know work well, eg the Kiwi Landing Pad
    • Attracting more VC funding into NZ
    • Allowing startup funds to be efficiently recycled by exiting founders
    • More hubs and people working together


Parliament passed the Copyright Amendment Act into law under urgency last night, effectively forcing Internet Service Providers to police people allegedly infringing copyrights, with the ultimate sanction being a $15,000 fine and disconnecting the offender from the Internet.

The whole idea is stupid and irritating on many levels, but to me, the worst aspect is the abuse of urgency.  Urgency is only meant to be used when things are, well, urgent, but in this case it’s being used to stifle debate.

Even more irritating is Labour’s response, with Clare Curran crowing that Labour only passed 13 bills under urgency in their 9-year tenure.  That’s 13 bills too many in my book, and includes such standouts as the Terrorism Suppression Act and the Seabed and Foreshore Act.

I’d dearly like both major parties to revise their policy on urgency, as it is a clear threat to democracy.  They may be using it on something as seemingly innocuous as the Copyright Amendment Act today, but they’re on a slippery slope pointing back toward the days of Rob Muldoon.

I was quoted in the Herald from one of my tweets as being “p****d off”, but I’m really livid. If democracy slips away from us, we’ll only have ourselves to blame.