Mapp for Science, Joyce for ICT, what next?

There were more than a few surprises in John Key’s cabinet line-up announced yesterday. Dr Wayne Mapp’s appointment to the research, science and technology portfolio was largely unexpected but gels reasonably well with his other associate portfolios of associate economic development and associate tertiary education though Dr Mapp’s key portfolio of defence is likely to keep him busy.

Steven Joyce was always an obvious candidate for the ICT portfolio, given his interest in infrastructure and the fact that the broadband scheme will be one of the biggest infrastructure programmes the Government embarks on in the next few years.

There are some big issues on the agenda for the RS&T porfolio including:

Dr Wayne Mapp
Dr Wayne Mapp

1. The ditching of the $700 million Fast Forward fund – how will this be wound-up in an orderly way? National claims in its science policy “Where R&D initiatives have already been established through Fast Forward, consideration will be given to continuing them.”

What, if any of the work that has been done by the early stakeholders in Fast Forward be retained?

2. The new funding landscape for primary sector R&D – how will it work?

National plans to boost funding of primary sector and food research by $25 million a year over the next three years, boosting funding for research consortia in the primary sector by $25 million a year over the same period. It plans to establish a ‘virtual centre’ for research dedicated to reducing on-farm greenhouse gas emissions funded to the tune of $20 million a year over the next three years.

Importantly, how will the new centre for on-farm greenhouse gas reduction research fit in with the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium which has already done a lot of good research in this area?

3. Scrapping the R&D tax credit – what will it mean for businesses?

Companies quick to take advantage of the 15 per cent R&D tax credit which has been in place since April 1 will find that their tax holiday is extremely brief. There will need to be some good communication to the innovation sector as to how and when the scheme will be wound down and the accounting and financial planning implications this will have for the innovation sector.

4. Securing more funding for CRIs – what’s involved?

Some of the savings from the R&D tax credit will be used to inject more funding into the Crown Research Institutes. But the details of how this will happen are currently vague.

Says National: “National will treat the secure funding allocation as a core part of the CRIs’ revenue stream. We will fund CRIs on a longer-term basis to develop and maintain a nationally significant research capacity in their core areas of science.”

There will be a degree of contestability for funding of the CRIs – how will this work? There are some other intriguing provisions in the science policy that need to be worked through including:

– an intellectual property policy for the CRIs that ” rewards individual inventors”.

– co-supervision of postgraduate students between CRIs and universities.

– mechisms allowing senior scientists to move betwene universities, CRIs and industry more easily.

5. The role of the Prime Minister’s Science Advisor

What will the science adviser do specifically and what sort of interaction will the adviser have with the scientific community. Exactly what will be in the science adviser’s remit?

This is a potentially very powerful position and there are many good candidates in New Zealand science. Some firm guidelines will need to be put in place and circulated with the science sector to explain to scientists exactly what the position hopes to achieve.

6. $1 million in annual Prime Minister’s prizes for science

How will these new prizes for scientists, including the supreme Prime Minister’s science prize, dovetail will existing science prizes or will there be a big shake-up of prize-giving in science?

7. Cutting red tape in science

National promises in its first six months in office to investigate options for reducing compliance costs and bureaucracy in the “science system”.

This could include reducing the funding pots available to streamline applications, better co-ordination of the RS&T funding cycle.

There are some big issues on the agenda for the communications and Information technology portfolio including:

Steven Joyce
Steven Joyce

The Broadband Investment Fund

Numerous groups have already submitted applications for funding of regional broadband schemes through Labour’s BIF scheme. Will these applications be thrown out?

The $1.5 billion fibre plan

National’s broadband policy is available here, but is scant on detail. Huge questions remain on the following:

– The technology that will underpin the network? Will the entire network be fibre based? How will the network fit in with exisiting fibre infrastructure?

– How will the FibreCo company be structured?

Timeframes, speeds and feeds

When will this scheme start delivering tangible benefits for New Zealanders?

Other ICT issues on the agenda:

The Digital Strategy – will National endorse its aims or look to change the agenda here?

Closer integration with broadcasting regulation – will ICT – telecommunications etc be rolled up with broadcasting under the remit of a central overseeing regulator?

The private sector and R&D. The removal of the R&D tax credit was a bit of a slap in the face to private companies who were early in taking advantage of it. How will National encourage our innovative companies to increase their R&D spend (which is behind that of other OECD countries)?

In the National Business Review, InternetNZ argues for the BIF boradband scheme to be retained.

And in Computerworld, IDC analyst Rosalie Nelson argues that broadband should be addressed on a targeted basis, not a fibre-for-all grand plan.

“In short, if the goal is economic gain, then surely the approach needs to be calibrated to encourage contestable and competitive fibre availability where commercially viable, and new contestable investment where it is not, keeping an open mind on what technology will best meet market need. Then integrate it with a strong focus on helping grow the services that will truly deliver productivity benefits.

“The equation changes if the government’s desired outcomes are social. Economic benefits can be quasi-commercial and quantifiable; social benefits are more ephemeral. They will almost certainly deliver, at some future point, economic gains. But what becomes harder to determine is whether it is the difference between 100Mbit/s or 50Mbits or 20Mbit/s that really drives the benefits – or the services and convergence capability that are emerging apace.”

The complete list of ministers

1. John Key

Prime Minister

Minister of Tourism

Ministerial Services

Minister in Charge of the NZ Security Intelligence Service

Minister Responsible for the GCSB

2. Hon Bill English

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister of Finance

Minister for Infrastructure

3. Gerry Brownlee

Minister for Economic Development

Minister of Energy and Resources

Leader of the House

Associate Minister for the Rugby

World Cup

4. Simon Power

Minister of Justice

Minister for State Owned Enterprises

Minister of Commerce

Minister Responsible for the Law Commission

Associate Minister of Finance

Deputy Leader of the House

5. Hon Tony Ryall

Minister of Health

Minister of State Services

6. Hon Dr Nick Smith

Minister for the Environment

Minister for Climate Change Issues

Minister for ACC

8. Judith Collins

Minister of Police

Minister of Corrections

Minister of Veterans’ Affairs

9. Anne Tolley

Minister of Education

Minister for Tertiary Education

Minister Responsible for the Education Review Office

10. Christopher Finlayson


[Includes responsibility for Serious Fraud Office]

Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations

Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage

11. Hon David Carter

Minister of Agriculture

Minister for Biosecurity

Minister of Forestry

12. Hon Murray McCully

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Minister for Sport and Recreation

Minister for the Rugby World Cup

13. Tim Groser

Minister of Trade

Minister of Conservation

Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs

Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues (International Negotiations)

14. Dr Wayne Mapp

Minister of Defence

Minister of Research, Science and Technology

Associate Minister for Economic Development

Associate Minister for Tertiary Education

15. Steven Joyce

Minister of Transport

Minister for Communications and Information Technology

Associate Minister of Finance

Associate Minister for Infrastructure

16. Hon Georgina te Heuheu

Minister for Courts

Minister of Pacific Island Affairs

Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control

Associate Minister of Maori Affairs

18. Paula Bennett

Minister for Social Development and Employment

Minister for Disability Issues

Minister of Youth Affairs

19. Phil Heatley

Minister of Fisheries

Minister of Housing

20. Pansy Wong

Minister for Ethnic Affairs

Minister of Women’s Affairs

Associate Minister for ACC

Associate Minister of Energy and Resources

21. Dr Jonathan Coleman

Minister of Immigration

Minister of Broadcasting

Associate Minister of Tourism

Associate Minister of Health

22. Kate Wilkinson

Minister of Labour

Minister for Food Safety

Associate Minister of Immigration


23. Hon Maurice Williamson

Minister for Building and Construction

Minister of Customs

Minister of Statistics

Minister for Small Business

24. Dr Richard Worth

Minister of Internal Affairs

Minister for Land Information

Minister Responsible for Archives

New Zealand

Minister Responsible for the National Library

Associate Minister of Justice

25. John Carter

Minister of Civil Defence

Minister for Senior Citizens

Minister for Racing

Associate Minister of Local Government


Rodney Hide

Minister of Local Government

Minister for Regulatory Reform

Associate Minister of Commerce

Heather Roy

Minister of Consumer Affairs

Associate Minister of Defence

Associate Minister of Education

Dr Pita Sharples

Minister of Maori Affairs

Associate Minister of Corrections

Associate Minister of Education

Hon Tariana Turia

Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector

Associate Minister of Health

Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment

Hon Peter Dunne

Minister of Revenue

Associate Minister of Health