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Message from the Minister of Government Digital Services

I’m getting excited about Ministers from leading digital nations arriving in New Zealand with their delegations for Digital 5 2018 next week.

This will be the fourth gathering of the Digital 5 (D5) countries which are widely recognised as having some of the most advanced digital governments in the world – New Zealand, Estonia, Israel, South Korea and the UK.

It’s our first time hosting the D5 event and this presents us with a number of great opportunities. We can promote New Zealand as a digital leader and showcase the best digital technology our government agencies have created. We’ll also be working collaboratively on common projects, sharing world-class digital practices and looking at technologies other countries are using which we could potentially put in place here – all of which will help us as we work to transform our own public services.

It’s true we’re seen as a leading digital nation but we still have much work to do to become an even better digital government. And by this I’m not just referring to embracing the latest technology. To successfully transform our services, we’ll need to change how we operate so Kiwis are involved in the decision-making processes of government in an environment where they feel they can express their views freely and safely. Where they can afford to and are physically able to access the technology, they need to interact better with government no matter what their economic circumstances or where they live.

It’ll be interesting to hear what other D5 countries are doing to improve their governments in the digital space. We’re grappling with many common issues, so it makes sense to come together to pool our knowledge and ideas and learn from each other. There’s going to be plenty of stimulating discussion at the various events that make up Digital 5 2018 and I know senior officials at a range of agencies are looking forward to engaging with their international counterparts, as am I.

One of my main focus areas will be digital rights – the current challenges we face in this area and how we’re working to address them. In the increasingly digital environment we live in, it’s important everyone has the chance to interact digitally with the world around them and take advantage of the many opportunities arising from rapidly-evolving digital technologies. I believe it’s essential all New Zealanders have access to technology as a right, regardless of income or geography. We also need a framework in place to protect people’s digital rights so they can feel reassured their information is private and secure.

This is the first time the digital rights topic has been discussed at a D5 meeting. It will be the beginning of the conversation, where Ministers and experts will determine the scope of the work required.

From an economic perspective, ensuring industry, government, NGOs and other stakeholders work together to get the best from technology – along with creating new jobs and developing people’s skills for jobs of the future – will see our digital economy grow.

I’ll be listening closely to what the other D5 countries are doing in relation to these matters and look forward to a great week of events.

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