Let’s just get on with it
NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says the government handling of the CTO process has been a ‘shocker’ and Kiwi tech business and organisations should not wait for government anymore.
“Let’s just get on with it,” says Muller, in a statement.
“In the past three years NZTech has managed to bring together and support 21 tech communities without any government funding to do so,” he says
"Now representing more than 800 organisations throughout New Zealand, from tech firms, startups and high-tech manufacturers to universities, government agencies and large corporations like banks, insurance companies, agri-businesses and an airline.
“Across these 21 tech associations many are already starting work on national strategies. The New Zealand AI Forum has more than 100 people voluntarily helping drive working groups, including the development of a national Artificial Intelligence strategy.”
Muller says he will propose to the NZTech strategy and planning day on Thursday to bring together the people who cared enough to apply to be New Zealand’s CTO.
“Let’s develop our own Ministry of the Future and collectively start developing a national digital/tech strategy for New Zealand.
“Four years is too long to wait for a New Zealand government to establish a high-level technology advisory role. A lot happens in the tech world in four years.
“New Zealand firms have sent rockets to space, developed autonomous vehicles and put faces to artificial intelligence. The pace of technology change presents enormous opportunities for New Zealand’s future, yet the government lacks a trusted advisor to help them navigate the path.
He says during the 2014 NZTech annual meeting panel discussion with MPs, the idea of a CTO or tech advisor for the government was first raised by Rod Drury.
“The recommendation was for the creation of a chief technology advisor reporting directly to the Prime Minister to provide advice on the strategic use of technology across government and throughout society," he says.
“You wouldn’t think that sounds too difficult, unfortunately no party backed the concept in 2014."
He adds that in early 2017, NZTech, IT Professionals and InternetNZ brought together a collective of 20 leading technology groups to develop a Tech Manifesto for the 2017 election.
“The call was put out for a Ministry of the Future, a pseudo-agency bringing government and the private sector together, led by a chief technology advisor, focused on positioning New Zealand and all Government agencies and society to take best advantage of a technologically enabled future.
“Both parties eventually indicated support for some form of CTO role. Labour’s ICT manifesto stated that they “recognise the strategic importance of digitisation and will appoint a CTO to ensure that digital development is planned to achieve the best national outcomes”.
“Last week we finally got to put all of the speculation to bed about what was happening with the New Zealand Chief Technology Officer role when Derek Handley shared an update on LinkedIn.
“Having been offered the role, signed the contract and relocated his family from the US he arrived back in New Zealand to find out that the role had been canned. What a shocker,” says Muller.
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