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The Need For Speed Appears Lost On Government 25 October 2000 Edition
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Yesterday the government and a bunch of "compatible" businesspeople sat around and chewed the fat on how to address the burning issue of pulling this nation's backside out of the fires of decline.

Nobody was expecting that when we awoke this morning the sun would be shining extra bright and venture capital would flow like water -- but exactly what has been achieved?

For anyone at the cutting edge of the "new economy" the single most important issue would have to be that of research and development -- which is why many of us were hoping that at least we'd see some concrete steps forward in this area.

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
The election's over... - Joe

Government time vs New Economy - Rob

Have Your Say
Well Dr Cullen announced that he will be releasing a discussion paper and plans to introduce new legislation next year that will become effective on April 1, 2002.


April 2002? That's eighteen months away!

What are we supposed to do -- ask all our trading partners and competitors to just stay where they are for a year and a half while we get around to taking our first step to catch up?

As I've said repeatedly in this column, the government, business, and indeed the entire country has to be prepared to move at speed if we're to have the faintest hope of catching the new economy boat. An eighteen month delay before NZ's R&D taxation regime is brought into line with our trading partners is absolutely unacceptable and will likely drive even more hi-tech ventures and investment into the welcoming arms of the USA, Ireland and other new economies.

Don't be fooled by this story on IDG's website in which implies that we'll be benefitting from the changes to R&D tax by "early next year" -- that's just when the legislation would be passed -- it won't come into effect until the following year (2002).

This must be extremely disappointing for those local and overseas investors who are presently contemplating extensive investment in local new economy industries.

Given that the government now acknowledges the loss of revenues associated with honouring its pre-election R&D tax promise would be significantly less than the $100m per year suggested by treasury I must ask why are they bothering with a discussion paper and a 18-month delay? Business has made its needs very clear and with a highly unified voice -- what's to discuss? Why delay?

It strikes me as absolutely unbelievable that the Prime Minister gave $120m of unbudgeted money to the arts just months after the election yet chooses to further ankle-tap attempts to get a new economy going in New Zealand by deferring for 18 months what is perhaps the single most critical element of government policy needed to foster a new economy here.

I know that when I run my own household budget I tend to consider "the arts" to be a luxury item on which I'll spend money only once I've paid the insurances, mortgage, power, phone and other essentials. It seems the Prime Minister is perhaps not quite so prudent in her allocation of funds and we're all going to pay the price as a result.

I have to admit that I'm left totally confused and somewhat disillusioned this morning -- I was expecting a whole lot more.

The official line from this forum was that "we're talking" -- but, once again, as I've said so often in this column -- talk is cheap but only actions produce results and we have still yet to see any action at all from government.

Come on guys -- kill the rhetoric -- start doing something!

Sure, some areas will require careful consideration and debate before action is taken but that doesn't mean quick, decisive moves can't be made on the more clear-cut issues such as R&D taxation.

What do you think? Am I missing something here? Am I over-reacting? Should the changes to R&D taxation, one of the Labour Party's election promises, be implemented immediately or is 18 months a reasonable delay?

ClearNet Website Gets A Facelift -- Or Not?
When it was launched several years ago, the ClearNet website was something of a breakthrough and most certainly set the benchmark for slick looking web design in this country.

It's clean, bright, whiter-than-white colour scheme combined with just the right level of graphics, a hint of Java and well-designed navigation brought oohs and aahs of admiration from surfers and other web designers alike.

But the only thing constant on the Net is change -- and the old ClearNet site is no more.

The cool, swish lines of the old site have gone, replaced by a layout that is familiar but far from awe-inspiring.

While it's hard to fault the new site from a technical perspective (although this snap shows there are still some bugs), the flair and distinctive character that the old site had is now gone. The new ClearNet site isn't going to win any awards -- it's just too much like all the other would-be portals -- the sizzle has gone.

Why not share your opinion of the new ClearNet site?

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Copyright © 2000, Bruce Simpson, free republication rights available on request

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