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National Party announces $1.29 billion tech policy ahead of election

The National Party has today announced its Tech 2030 Policy Plan which, if elected to form a government next month, will aim to create 100,000 jobs with a $1.29 billion investment into the technology sector.

In a statement, National Party Leader Judith Collins says she and her party want to leverage the influx of Kiwi talent returning home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and ‘seize the opportunity’ to drive a change in nation’s burgeoning technology sector. 

The policy announced today will aim to double the size of the industry by 2030.

“Doubling the size of the technology sector by 2030 is an ambitious goal, but one that I am serious about achieving,” says Collins.

National’s NZ Tech 2030 Plan includes:

  • Establishing a minister for technology
  • Offering 1000 tertiary scholarships per year targeted at students from low decile schools to undertake science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) degrees
  • Establishing a STEM-focused partnership school and restoring funding for specialist ICT graduate schools
  • Introducing a fast-track technology skills visa
  • Investing $1 billion in technology infrastructure upgrades with the aim of achieving 100 Mbps uncapped internet speeds for everyone using Ultra-Fast Broadband
  • Establishing three targeted investment funds for tech start-ups worth $200 million each, with the cost split evenly between Government and the private sector

New Zealand’s technology exports are currently roughly equivalent to its forestry and seafood exports combined - $8 billion. The party will aim to increase that to $16 billion within the next decade.

“Our tech sector has amazing potential,” Ms Collins says. “If we attract the right talent and create an environment for growth, it could be bigger than our dairy sector in 10 to 15 years.”

“New Zealand needs to grow its way out of this economic crisis, which will only be possible with the hard work, ingenuity and determination of the private sector.

“National’s NZ Tech 2030 Plan will diversify our exports, level-up our economic productivity, and generate thousands of high-paying, future-proofed jobs for New Zealanders.”

The party says it would also relax requirements for investor-class visas if elected, as well as offer a path towards permanent residency for those completing a three-year Bachelor’s degree in tech-related subjects.

National has also pledged to introduce a global PhD scholarship programme to recruit 50 top STEM PhD candidates from major universities each year to spend at least six months in New Zealand during their doctorate.

National’s NZ Tech 2030 Plan is expected to cost $690 million over its first four years. Infrastructure upgrades over the following six years are expected to cost another $600m, bringing the total cost to $1.29 billion.

Today’s announcement comes after the party was embarrassed by a $4 billion gap in its fiscal election plan, a flaw which was called an ‘irritating mistake’ by National party spokesperson Paul Goldsmith.