Curran: Chief Technology Officer a priority

Clare Curran, in a keynote address at NetHui 2017 as new Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and Government Digital Services, has promoted the need for a Chief Technology Officer.

She also emphasised the need for ‘digital inclusion’.

20/20 Trust:  Digital inclusion: “We must never leave anyone behind” – Hon. Clare Curran

In her  wide ranging speech – her first keynote speech as Minister – Clare Curran covered many digital issues, with one strong and consistent thread being digital inclusion and addressing the rise of digital inequality in NZ.

She said that being open and transparent, diverse, open for debate,  future-focused, solution-focused and collaborative were attributes of InternetNZ’s NetHui – she has participated in virtually every one – that the new government hopes to emulate and she intends to demonstrate.

Lack of home internet access highest factor in social deprivation

Talking about the digital divide (39 mins into video), she highlighted that Otago University’s Social  Deprivation Index has identified the lack of home access as the highest weighted factor affecting social deprivation for working age Kiwis.

1 in 5 Kiwis are no or low users of the internet

The World Internet Project report estimates that 19-20% of New Zealanders are no or low net users – that is 1 in 5. Affordability was a key issue (42 mins). Acknowledging the work of the 20/20 Trust, Computers in Homes, Spark Jump and other charitable initiatives, she went on to say “We don’t need to, and cannot afford to, exclude anyone from the benefits of digital connectivity. …. New Zealanders must have access to technology as a right.  …  our aim is to close the Digital Divide by 2020. ”  Digital inclusion, innovation and economic development could all be done.  … “We must never leave anyone behind.”

Priorities for first 100 days

Her priorities for the first 100 days are:

  1. Groundwork for a new position of chief technology officer for the government, with responsibility for preparing a national digital roadmap for the next 5 to 10 years
  2. A Blueprint for Digital Inclusion
  3. The framework for the establishment of Radio NZ Plus as the centrepiece of full, non-commercial public media services in NZ for all New Zealanders
  4. Process for proactive release of Government information.
  5. A framework for strengthening citizen’s rights in the digital environment

Her speech starts 27 minutes in, digital divide approx. 41 mins:

Press Release: New Zealand Government

Government signals Chief Technology Officer a priority appointment

The Government has outlined its priorities across digital technology, media and open government signalling that the establishment of a Chief Technology Officer is at the top of the list.

Delivering the keynote speech at NetHui 2017, the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and Government Digital Services and the Associate Minister of State Services (Open Government), Clare Curran, said that the Chief Technology Officer would be responsible for preparing and overseeing a national digital architecture, or roadmap, for the next five to ten years.

Ms Curran also said that the Government would begin work on a blueprint for digital inclusion to address the emerging digital divide, establish RNZ+ as the centrepiece of a full non-commercial public media service for all New Zealanders, institute a process for the proactive release of government information and create a framework for strengthening citizens’ rights in the digital environment.

“This Government will be modern, future-focused and innovative. We will also work collaboratively with industry, non-government organisations and communities.”

Further, Ms Curran said she would convene reference groups in her key portfolio areas and task them with pulling together leading thinkers and actors in each area, from inside government and across industry, local government, Māoridom, non-government organisations and community groups to ensure that the best thinking is applied to realising Government policy.

“This Government intends to progress its goals to close the digital divide by 2020, and to make ICT the second largest contributor to GDP by 2025.”
“New Zealanders rightly expect that their government
should behave in a predictable, open and transparent way and ensure that nobody is left behind. The internet and digital tools are fundamental to us achieving these goals,” Ms Curran said.

The Minister’s full NetHui speech here.


  1. Gezza

     /  November 12, 2017

    Sounds sensible & timely to me.

  2. Ray

     /  November 12, 2017

    The left default position is there is never a problem you can’t fix by throwing OPM at and getting mates (failed Labour candidates) to run.
    My pick is Jordan Carter will be the man.
    Possibly will do a good job but see above.

    • Blazer

       /  November 12, 2017

      is that lemon squeezer a very tight fit…Ray.?Very tired cliché you trot out there.I can list a few things National did to assuage concerns,especially when dealing with corporations.

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  November 12, 2017

    You can’t ensure home access to internet for people who would rather get roaring drunk or drugged at a party than pay a broadband bill and use the internet productively. Or for their unfortunate children. Even if it is free it will most likely be used for watching pornography.

    That’s one extreme of course that will always be with us. It doesn’t invalidate looking at ways to help those who do want to help themselves. I hope Ms Curran doesn’t have too much of a fixation on looking to bureaucrats to solve these problems rather than markets and local initiatives. Generally the IT industry leaves bureaucracy trailing a long way behind and usually going up dead-end paths at great expense.

    • Gezza

       /  November 12, 2017

      Even if it is free it will most likely be used for watching pornography.
      One former Labour Cabinet with that attitude doesn’t mean everybody else would be the same, Al.

      • Gezza

         /  November 12, 2017

        *Cabinet Minister (whoops)

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  November 12, 2017

          Once they’ve won a scholarship to Harvard I wouldn’t grudge them that, G. It’s not getting to the first educational step that’s the issue.

    • Kimbo

       /  November 12, 2017

      “I hope Ms Curran doesn’t have too much of a fixation on looking to bureaucrats to solve these problems rather than markets and local initiatives.”

      He he he. I think you already know the answer, Alan! 😉