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Brigitte Morten

Budget 2019: What it means for the tech sector


Despite some wins for the tech sector in investment, the Government’s Budget has been overshadowed by the premature disclosure of Budget information. This has resulted in some unexpected learnings about how you handle weaknesses in your online platforms and how you communicate when they have been exploited.

In preparation for Budget Day, Treasury inadvertently indexed material that was meant to be released on Budget day, which meant it was searchable on their website. The Opposition, having found this, released the material.

Treasury then told the Minister of Finance that the disclosure was the result of hacking, and quickly raised the matter to the Cyber Security Centre, and the Police. When it was ultimately revealed the leak was a Treasury bungle there were many asking how it went so wrong.

The person responsible for communications to the Minister and public, in this series of events, was the Treasury Secretary, who is someone who is far removed from day-to-day IT operations and is unlikely to hold any particular knowledge in the area. There may be some lessons in how companies faced with similar issues deal with investigating a failure like this in real-time with media on your back, and when your key communicator is a person who does not have the specialised knowledge required to explain what is happening.

Unrelated to that incident but in a similar area, the Budget did announce that the Government would be investing in security and intelligence networks with a particular interest in cyber-security. This is part of the work the Government is undertaking post Christchurch.

More positively, the Government has heard the concerns of the tech sector that there is difficulty accessing capital for early stage businesses. There will be a new $300 million fund to support venture capital investments.

There will also be an additional $157 million spent on initiatives to support businesses to become more productive and develop high value low-emissions products. A significant portion of this is focused on supporting and incubating start-ups working in this area.

And more broadly, the Budget announced new spending in vocational education, a school leavers toolkit and new pathways to work programmes that will hopefully also start to address some of the digital skill shortages.

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Brigitte Morten Government Relations Manager