Aardvark Daily aardvark (ard'-vark) a controversial animal with a long probing nose used for sniffing out the facts and stimulating thought and discussion.

NZ's leading source of Net-Industry news and commentary since 1995
Australasia's "New Economy" News And Commentary Site
Today's Headlines | Contact | New Sites | Press Bin | Job Centre | News Search
It's B-Day 15 June 2000 Edition
Previous Edition

New Zealand's business community is waiting with fingers crossed in anticipation of today's first Labour-led coalition budget.

Many are hopeful that the government has finished paying for its political debts with taxpayer funds and might now be able to focus on addressing the issues that confront the nation in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

 Please support the advertiser InternetNZ, the voice of the New Zealand Internet

As mentioned previously in this column, clear indication has been given that there will be no relief or parity in the area of R&D tax policies but what about the other initiatives that could go a long way towards helping this country become a real player in the new knowledged-based marketplace of the 21st century.

Education
While the government is to be congratulated for its changes to the manner in which interest is charged on student loans, we still need to see more effort made to produce our universities' output of sci-tech graduates.

The massive slashing of dental degrees which the government announced early in its term seems at odds with its acknowledgement that a good supply of sci-tech graduates is critical for our country's success. Indeed, this government's record to date seems to show a regular desire to throw money at small groups with seemingly little rhyme nor reason -- while ignoring the bigger problems.

Let's hope they've wised-up and decided to consider sci-tech degrees in the same light. As I've suggested before -- why not offer a sci-tech graduates a 75% refund on course fees if they remain in New Zealand and in employment for at least three years after graduating? That could significantly boost the number of students in these areas while also helping to stem the brain-drain and providing local companies with much-needed skilled workers.

And, the effect on tax revenues is likely to be positive rather than negative -- since those graduates would be earning significant incomes during those three years -- and paying tax on those earnings. Much better than having them not study or to graduate and fly off to the USA the next day right?

Overseas Investment
Many potential overseas investors have been looking at New Zealand as a potential place to do a little business, however, to date few have considered that this country really has a clue about how to manage things in the commercial environment created by the transition from primary produce to high value goods and services.

Making our country an attractive place for overseas investors to place their funds is crucial for our fledgling industries. Many new economy startups require significant levels of funding and there simply isn't enough venture capital in New Zealand to do the job properly. We will have no option but to convince overseas investors that the economic climate here makes it more effective to invest in NZ companies rather than simply demand they move to the USA.

Let's face it -- unless we change New Zealand's attitude to new economy industries then potential investors will just pick the eyes out of our brightest and best people and businesses -- dragging them offshore so that we lose the tax revenues and profits.

Better, faster government
While this isn't a budget issue, a factor that New Zealand really needs in order to succeed at a time when products and services can be delivered in the blink of an eye to customers half a world away -- is the efficiency of government.

While it may have been acceptable 30 years ago for governments to rely on slow, cumbersome, bureaucracy-laden processes to make key decisions regarding policies that affect business -- such inefficiency and latency now places us very much on the back foot. Admittedly it's true that most other developed nations are in very much the same boat -- New Zealand ought to realise that if it can streamline and improve the efficiency of government decision-making and policy creation in this area, it would give our businesses a very real edge on their overseas peers. It's also a perfect use of the new technologies that are now available to us.

Unfortunately, reports published this week indicate that our government is way behind the 8-ball on bringing its systems into the age of new technology and that we're at least several years behind Australia and many other countries -- including even some 3rd-world ones.

Smaller is often better
Here's my final suggestion of the day. Bearing in mind the need for faster, more efficient decision/policy making, why doesn't the government appoint someone with real, practical, first-hand experience and knowledge of the technology, culture, theory and practice of the new economy as a liaison with the industry.

After more than 20 years of involvement in projects of all sizes I've become very much aware of the truth surrounding the old adage -- "no matter how many woman you put on the job, it still takes nine months to have a baby."

Rather than a small army of slow-moving bureaucrats, perhaps government's connection to industry might be better served by a lesser number of "movers and shakers" with a proven record in making things happen. I'm afraid that career politicians such as Michael Cullen and Jim Anderton appear to have no idea what it's like in the "real world (tm)" and that, understandably, makes it difficult for them to fully appreciate the need for speed and the effects that latency in the decision/policy-making process can have.

A reply to the critics
Just a reminder to those people who have labeled me as a "right wing nutter" or "anti-Labour/Alliance" -- I try to be completely non-partisan in this column. Regular readers will realise that I had no time for the silly posturing antics or endless rhetoric of the previous National-led government either.

My perspective is that each and every Kiwi pays a rather large amount of their earnings in the expectation that they will be receiving quality government and they have a right to demand it -- and complain if it's not forthcoming. Have you ever wondered why the government and so many of its departments are specifically excluded from the provisions of the Fair Trading Act?

Although one or two have suggested that I should be a member of the Business Round Table because of my views -- I think it worth pointing out that although I've been on the board of several companies, I've never, ever seen any board meeting subjected to the childish, unprofessional and immature levels of behavior and antics so regularly observed in parliament's debating chamber.

The behaviour and attitudes of our MPs would not be tolerated in any board-room in the country -- nor would it be acceptable behaviour by a classroom of 8-year-olds. Can these people not settle down and lead by example instead of repeatedly showing contempt for those who employ them by wasting their time and our money trying to "score points" or indulge in personal agendas at a time when they are supposed to be running the country?

Is it any wonder that politicians are held in lower esteem than used car salesmen these days? Sorry guys -- the respect of the people can't be gained by legislation, you've got to earn it!

As always, your feedback is welcomed.

NZL Sites
IDG.Net.nz
NZ Netguide
NZ Herald Tech
PC World NZ
Scoop

AUS Sites
Fairfax IT
Australian IT
AFR Tech
AUS Netguide
NineMSN Tech
APC Magazine
Corporate IT

USA Sites
Wired.com
CNet
CNNfn Tech
TechWeb
Yahoo Tech
ZDNet Tech
USA Today Tech
7am.com SciTech

UK Sites
The Register
BBC SciTech

The Day's Top News
4 = open in new window
New Zealand

4  $3m injection to Doctor Global
Taranaki internet medical practice Doctor Global has received a $3 million capital boost from No 8 Ventures and a private investor...
NZ Herald

4  Web ratings game heats up
The Australian Web measurement company Sinewave Interactive is set to follow Nielsen NetRatings into the New Zealand market within a month...
IDG NZ

4  Electronic marketplaces on the way
More electronic marketplaces are set to open in New Zealand after major deals involving Telecom and Ariba....
IDG NZ

4  Infobase gets spruce up
A Web-based database containing the estimated value of every house in New Zealand is being made easier to use....
IDG NZ

Other

4  MS Appeals Process Set in Motion
An appeals court has agreed to clear its docket to hear Microsoft's antitrust case, meaning it won't go directly to the Supreme Court as the government had hoped...
Wired

4  Healtheon sues Atlanta man over domain name
The online medical information provider sues a Web site operator for allegedly using the domain name "wbmd.com" to sell prescription drugs and sex toys...
CNet

4  Net firm with pricey Super Bowl ad goes bust
One of the 16 Internet companies that spent $1.6 million on a Super Bowl advertisement has hit the showers for good after burning through its cash...
CNet

Australia

4  Grim news for Wang's Edge Group creditors
Recovered inter-company loans were the only hope of payment for most unsecured creditors of Johnson Wang's collapsed Edge Gruop of COmpanies, the administrator said yesterday...
AFR

4  ACA announces Western Australia analog network closure
The Australian Communications Authority will close another section of the analog mobile phone network later this month, affecting parts of Western Australia...
Fairfax

4  C&W Optus unit, Lucent to build national DSL network
Cable & Wireless Optus subsidiary XYZed and Lucent Technologies have formed a partnership to build a national digital subscriber line network to deliver broadband access to business customers...
Fairfax

4  Telstra absorbs local call GST
TELSTRA won't raise the price of standard local calls or STD capped rates because of the GST...
Australian IT

4  Net gains galore for McKinsey staff
Former McKinsey & Co consultants are continuing to bubble to the top of Australia's internet scene, with PBL yesterday naming ex-McKinseyite Alison Deans as CEO of its internet arm, ecorp...
AFR

Other

4  AOL Expands Deal With TiVo for Personal TV
Leading Internet media provider America Online Inc. on Wednesday said it reached an agreement for TiVo Inc. to offer subscribers of AOLTV service the ability to create their own TV schedule and customize live television shows...
Yahoo/Reuters

4  Napster says it's OK to share MP3 files
Most copyright experts would disagree, but Napster says it's perfectly legal for users to exchange MP3 files over the Internet...
ZDNet