Yesterday’s announcement of ministerial portfolio’s had the touch of experience, wisdom and smart thinking about it.
Actually it shows that the Government has absorbed the lessons of the election well, the itch that the ‘Internet Party’ was trying to scratch has been soothed, and the calls for a CTO for NZ have been answered with something even better.
Initially I was focused on Amy Adams retaining Communications and gaining Broadcasting, reflecting the fact that media is just content and hopefully pointing to some joined up thinking in that space,
I think an ironic consequence of the whole ‘Dirty Politics’ saga is that any illusions about ‘old’ media being somehow different and distinct have been shattered, the only difference is the delivery mechanism.
What slipped my attention was that ICT has returned to Steven Joyce, this is interesting because he is undoubtedly the architect of the ambitious projects that will give New Zealand a huge economic and social advantage in the decades that lie ahead.
This is really good news, ICT has traditionally been seens as a relatively lowly portfolio that is used to train a new minister (this has been the case for both Steven and Amy), it has never been held at such a senior level before nor has it beem reclaimed before. But I think it has dawned on the Government that ICT is going to be the platform that lets them keep delivering across all of their major portfolios without increasing taxes.
The third part of the new line up worth commenting on is the transfer of SIS and GCSB oversight to the Attorney General essentially moving the operational aspect of these agencies into a very legal framework.
As I’ve said before I was pretty happy with the Government’s two new ICT initiatives, the 5% extension to the UFB target and the extra $150 million for rural broadband, my two unfulfilled hopes had been for a ‘CTO’ for New Zealand and a ‘Digital Bill of Rights’.
Well I actually think we may have sort of got both of those, separating the SIS and GCSB roles from the PM will put some welcome distance into cybersecurity and surveillance issues and Chris Finlayson could well be the architect of the real digital Magna Carta..
And having the 3rd most important cabinet minister take back ICT is actually way better than having an official who reports to the PM because it means that ICT is at every cabinet meeting and is going to be factored into every relevant government decision. Not just that Steven is very experienced at sorting out ICT projects, I suspect his Novopay experience could well earn him a CIO of the year nomination.
When you add ICT in with his other portfolios such as Economic Development, Tertiary Education and Science and Innovation, he has the whole mix, research, skills, jobs and ICT driven economic growth.
It’s funny because before the election Steven claimed we didn’t need a CTO because we had the GCIO (a role that really should report to him now), at the time I thought his response was flippant but now I think he wanted the role himsel.