NZ Health IT CEO backs Ministry for the Future proposal

The CEO of NZ Health IT (NZHIT) Scott Arrol has added his voice to the IT industry’s call for the creation of a Ministry for the Future, saying the nation has little time to adapt and stay up with the fast-changing tech world. 

Last month twenty major Kiwi tech organisations led by NZTech, IT Professionals (ITP) and InternetNZ issued a manifesto of New Zealand’s Digital Future calling for the Government to establish a dedicated Ministry for the Future that would focus on enabling the nation to take best advantage of a technologically enabled future. 

Responding to that initiative Arrol said: “We believe NZTech, InternetNZ, IT Professionals and all the other national tech groups are bang on when they say the prosperity of New Zealand is inextricably linked to how we embrace our future as a digital nation. … A number of other countries, including Sweden and the United Kingdom, have implemented or are considering a ministry or Minister for the Future to lead their nation's policy and direction.” 

He said the mandate for the new ministry should cover all areas impacted by future technology, including social, economic and educational. “While New Zealand has a government chief information officer as a functional lead for digital and ICT within government, this proposed ministry would be strategically focused and have a higher level broad scope. 

“With the implications of dramatic health technology change being all encompassing, this warrants dedicated ministerial attention to ensure all of New Zealand is ready for the future. That’s why we really support and see the benefits of this manifesto. 

“New digital health technologies are driving economic and social change. This disruption affects all health sectors and is dramatically changing how we live, work and play. Not only will we be working differently, we will also be doing different work, with many of today’s jobs vanishing and the creation of new roles, many of which we haven’t yet imagined. 

He added: “Health must catch up with other sectors especially those that are customer-focussed and understand the importance of adding value in a tech enabled world. The consequences of not doing this are too frightening to contemplate. Hopefully this landmark tech manifesto will accelerate the process.” 

• Australia’s future past

Australia once had a government body focussed on the future. The Australian Labor Government established the Commission for the Future in 1985. It focussed on issues affecting the future including the predicament of youth, the ecology of health, sustainable environments, improving skills in Australia, technological change and law, management and work organisation, education futures, biotechnology, the information society, foreign affairs, the greenhouse effect, labour trends and population studies. 

According to the Australian Encyclopaedia of Science it was widely criticised throughout its life and had to endure ever decreasing budgets. It closed in 1998.


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