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

The Hon. Clare Curran giving her first Ministerial Keynote speech, at NetHui
The Hon. Clare Curran giving her first Ministerial Keynote speech, at NetHui

The Hon. Clare Curran, the new Minister for Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, and for Government Digital Services laid out the new government’s plans and her priority action list for today.

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

You can listen to the speech at https://livestream.com/i-filmservices/NetHui2017Stream1Thursday/videos/165647108

Her speech starts 27 minutes in, digital divide approx. 41 mins in.   It is well worth listening to in its entirety – the above excerpts focus on digital inclusion aspects; much else is covered.

(Note: The video captions were done as she spoke and there are a few, mainly obvious, captioning mistakes.

Read full text of Hon. Clare Curran’s Address to Nethui 2017, Aotea Centre, Auckland on beehive.govt.nz

See also Government signals Chief Technology Officer a priority appointment on beehive.govt.nz