What was that noise I heard from the Labour quarters of Parliament?
Why, it sounded like a pathetic whimper of protest from Clare Curran, member for Dunedin South.
Armed with degrees in anthropology and history, she’s obviously the ideal person (in Labour’s eccentric view of the world) to take responsibility for speaking on the new-age issue of information and communication technology.
In tandem with Labour’s State Services Commission spokesperson, Grant Robertson, Curran made her voice heard by describing the scrapping of the Government Shared Network (GSN) as “a backward step at a time when the National Government should be supporting information technology projects…”
The network links government agencies with high-speed internet and telecommunications services.
“The GSN is a major piece of the information communication technology infrastructure developed by the previous Labour Government,” they said.
“It provided a foundation for transformational improvement in the provision of state services and increased security and consolidated resources and expertise within the public sector.
“Its intention was always to provide a necessary and important service within the context of new technology for the public good.
“The National Government’s heavy-handed and regressive approach to new technology reflects its lack of a plan for ICT and will damage the industry generally.
“This decision demonstrates a big step backwards for New Zealand’s digital strategy at a time when we need to be showing certainty and confidence.
“Instead of laying out a positive broadband plan, National is asleep at the wheel – since being in government, its only move has been to cancel a major IT infrastructure project, while leaving 36 Broadband Investment Fund projects in limbo.”
Blah, blah, blah.
Maybe Curran didn’t bother to read the press statement from State Services Minister Tony Ryall when he announced the previous government’s GSN would be scrapped because it is financially unsustainable.
The document wouldn’t have yellowed sufficiently or gathered enough dust to be of historical or anthropological interest yet.
First, there’s a bit of privatising going on here, and my constituents love seeing government trimmed. Participating government agencies will be moved to a new provider in the private sector.
Second, as Ryall explained –
“The previous government wrote off $10.6 million from the GSN project in the 2007/2008 financial year. The project had been running at a considerable financial loss ever since it became operational in September 2007 – losing $700,000 per month. Despite that the previous government had planned to carry on with it,” says Mr Ryall.
There you go. This government has a greater regard than Labour for stopping the misuse of my constituents’ taxes.
It’s not prepared to continue to underwrite significant losses.
As Ryall said – “All public service agencies need to demonstrate fiscal responsibility and focus on high value and high performance programmes.”
There are 35 or so public service departments, but then there are a raft of state outfits like the Police and SIS, Crown entities, the Reserve Bank, State-owned enterprises, and what-have-you.
Hundreds of the buggers.
Yet according to the information accompanying the Minister’s statement, the GSN – operational since 2007 – is used by just 16 agencies providing connections to around 130 government offices.
Looks like it’s been snuffed before it could get too cumbersome and costly.