Politics, Labour and FOSS

Clare Curran has been spending time listening and talking to a lot of people as she gets to grips with her ICT spokesperson portfolio. She picked Software Freedom Day (Wellington) to come very close to announcing a full on FOSS friendly policy from Labour.

Liberty, Linux and the gift economy.

Labour is, I believe, the first of the two major parties to show such a strong interest in Free and Open Source Software and related issues, such as open data. When he was ICT Minister, David Cunliffe made two supportive speeches at the NZ Open Source Awards but it would be fair to say any possible follow through was curtailed by telecommunications issues and the results of the 2009 elections.

The Greens have been long time and strong proponents of FOSS and Rodney Hide probably has the only Hansard recorded mention of Linux and open source. But this is a milestone worth recording.

And just to add weight to the direction Clare is taking her colleagues, here is a comment on one of her blog entries from the former Minister for Education Trevor Mallard:

Clare has been taking a leading role educating some of older "more experienced" caucus members in the very +ve role for NZ in Open Source. She has certainly cross-examined me on my role as Minister of Education in promoting Microsoft bulk purchases for schools.

Quite. You were lucky I wasn't there for the cross examination, Trevor :-)

We do need to hear from National. To be fair to them I did get to talk to John Key about FOSS early last year, when he was still in opposition. He showed a good understanding of the topic and of its potential. What is required now is for some cross party consensus on adopting the sort of policies towards accelerating the use of FOSS in government that have been adopted in places like the UK, Holland, Denmark, and Malaysia.