… the Internet Party have made a splash. Whether that splash comes from a belly flop or an elegant medal-winning dive from the high board remains to be seen
Is broadband Internet sufficiently important to our society to legitimise the conception of a new political party?

In the presence of outdated thinking by the incumbent political parties, I for one believe so.

High speed broadband is already making a significant impact in the areas of education, health, business processes, government services and communications, as well as social networks, shopping and entertainment services.

For so many, our daily lives now revolve around the technologies that bring us our information and communications services.  Devices like smart phones, tablets and connected televisions are transformational.

We use those devices to search for information, compare prices for purchases, watch videos and listen to music, as well as reading our news feeds and remaining connected with friends and family.

So many people now use computers in their work roles that it is now difficult to imagine being without one.

Our lives have become dependent on these technologies.  Much like the first industrial revolution of 1760 – 1820 brought about a dependence on large machines, capital and dense energy sources in the form of fossil fuels.

The second industrial revolution, from 1850 to the end of World War I, saw advances in the miniaturisation and affordability of machines, for example spinning wheels and sewing machines.   That led to the means of production being increasingly vested in small enterprises and the rise of cottage or home-based micro-industries.

Since WW1, our society has favoured large corporates with access to the capital to invest in machinery and the energy needed for fuelling those machines.  A consequence was the displacement of the recurring costs of human labour.

That roller-coaster ride is now swinging us back towards small enterprises and it is ICT technologies that are fuelling that swing.  The ‘weightless’ economy, driven by high speed broadband and the need for speed in bringing innovative products to market, is driving this latest change.

How do the policies of today’s political parties reflect these changes?

To me, the focus of the Right is on the subjugation of the worker by centralising the means of production to public and private corporations.  This compares to the left’s lurch to the emancipation of the individual from corporate profit takers.

Examples of the political Right’s efforts to enslave the individual is evident in the National Government’s hands-on role in the Canterbury rebuild and in regional irrigation projects.  It is evident in their R&D grants system, that focuses almost exclusively on big business, on the political ideology that saw the corporatisation of electricity and telecommunications infrastructure providers.

Internet Party?Those resisting this movement to the right welcomed plans announced less than a year ago by Kim Dotcom, to form a new political party.  The Internet Party was officially launched in January of this year, significantly on the second anniversary of the raid on Dotcom’s rural home north of Auckland.

The early speculation was that the young, the politically disaffected and marginalised voter would swan across to the new party.

Dubbed a ‘vanity party’ by some, it is clear that the Internet Party have nonetheless made a splash.  Whether that splash comes from a belly flop or an elegant medal-winning dive from the high board remains to be seen.

Whilst the Internet Party’s policies have extended beyond the Internet domain, how different are they from the other parties?

In the build up to the general election in six weeks, Rural Connect intends to explore the ICT policies of each of the main parties with a particular focus on rural needs that are so often ignored by the city-centric policy makers.