Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not represented as fact|
Yesterday the New Zealand government hyped up what was an otherwise rather
"expected" announcement relating to its vision for this country's economic
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
The fanfare surrounding the announcement was a bit like the release of the
nation's budget -- the information being treated with great secrecy
and embargoed so that none of the media could jump the gun.
Now don't get me wrong -- there's little wrong with the government's declared
goal of boosting our involvement and performance in hi-tech markets through the
promotion of our own innovation and talent.
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There was little substance in the announcement however -- certainly nothing
that merited the theatrics surrounding its release. Perhaps the PM's
obsession with the performing arts has meant that such drama os to now be
a part of all government decrees?
It seems that there are three key areas that will be focused on in future:
bio-technology, IT and communications, and "creative" industries.
Unfortunately I see some problems with bio-tech.
I wonder exactly how the government are going to fend off the strong objections
of the Green Party and the anti-GM brigade while also fostering an industry
in which genetic engineering and genetically modified organisms are becoming
an increasingly important component.
IT and communications are areas where we've already excelled and proven ourselves
capable of competing with other countries. What's been missing of course is the
investment capital that these industries need to turn good ideas into commercial
Although yesterday's announcement defined the goals fairly clearly, it made
little attempt to define the methods for reaching those goals.
The PM more or less ruled out the chances that personal tax rates would be
lowered but the Finance Minister did hint that changes to the rates of
business tax were not out of the question -- albeit they will probably be
focused on attracting overseas companies to our shores.
Given the self-imposed limits on taxation reform and the need to maintain
a center-left position, the current government has a very difficult task
ahead if it is to reach those lofty goals announced yesterday.
I can't see how it would help us if we were to give foreign companies a
preferential tax rate to local ones in order to attract them to our shores.
This would simply encourage local entrepreneurs to spend US$399
to set up an LLC (Limited Liability Company) in Delaware,
USA -- or even worse -- take their innovation and talent offshore to a country that
offers even better tax rates to foreign companies.
Likewise, the philosophical aversion to bringing NZ"s rates of personal tax
into line with those of other key players in the IT and communications industries
means that even if the corporate tax rate is dropped, it will still be hard to
keep our brightest and best individuals from jumping ship to Singapore, the
USA or other low-tax countries.
If I issued a press release saying that my goal was to put a Kiwi on Mars by
the year 2006, would I get as much press coverage?
Would my announcement be given any credibility without some proof that I had
a pretty good plan for reaching that goal and was prepared to make
the hard decisions required to do so?
Maybe this explains the reason why the government chose to try and dramatise
yesterday's launch. However, I have to say -- let's have more
steak and less sizzle eh?
Linking To Trouble
The BT hypertext linking case hasn't gone away yet -- and the media are still
intrigued with the possible outcome.
However, infringing BT's patent isn't the only way that linking can get you
Take the case of
on the ClearNet website.
Looks harmless enough doesn't it?
However, unless they've fixed it already, clicking on the link titled "American
Race Fan" will take you to a porno site (The Best Teen Sex Review Site). You
have been warned.
Was this intentional? Are revenues so tight that ClearNet has signed up to
an affiliate scheme to pay the rent? Is this a new Telstra-inspired policy?
No, it's simply one of those things that happen if you're not totally vigilant
about manually checking every link on your site with regularity.
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