Some excellent ideas from Rod Drury on how we move forward:
In Queenstown, tourism has just stopped and the airport is closed. The construction sector, which is underpinned by tourism, will fall next. So how can we get Queenstown’s economy back into action?
One of the things I learned from running a global company is understanding New Zealand has a unique set of values. Environment obviously is one. Equality is a value felt much more strongly here than in most of our close neighbours like Australia and the USA. We see this reflected in our recent policies, like when the Government banned the sale of property to foreigners – partially justified on the basis it would help solve our housing crisis.
So while we may not like the idea of overseas people coming here and buying houses, in places like Queenstown, Hawkes Bay and Northland, in a post-pandemic New Zealand, would we allow areas to be designated as okay for overseas ownership and construction? We could make 1,000 sections available for, say, $5 million dollars plus construction project costs, therefore adding $5 billion of residential construction and jobs to our economy this year. How do we feel about that now?
This is a great idea. Let wealthy foreigners pay a huge premium to be able to own a section here. You could then use that $5 billion to fund local infrastructure, thousands of state homes etc etc.
We’ve seen working from home actually working because of New Zealand’s massive investment in ultrafast broadband (UFB). Our domestic internet is the envy of Australia and even the USA. Treating fibre to the home as essentially public infrastructure any Internet Service Provider can connect to, and innovate over, has been an unqualified success.
As we move into the realm of 5G we could do the same. Let’s treat 5G towers as public infrastructure that any number of telco businesses could provide mobile services over.
I’ve been an advocate of this for many years. It is silly to have each retail mobile provider built their own towers. I’d have Chorus (who provide the fibre backhaul anyway) build all new cellphone towers and open them up to all mobile companies. Towers are infrastructure and the UFB project has shown us you need to seperate out the infrastructure layer from the retailers.
While we’re at it, let’s use this time to get the courage to finally fix our domestic payments networks so we can be completely contactless. This just requires courage from the Minister of Commerce to front up to the Aussie banks and lay down the law. That will spur further investment in banking and payments technology that can be taken to the world.
Basically what we have at the moment is the banks all charge each other a big fee to accept payments from other bank’s cards. This means they all reap in huge fees.
This is akin to what mobile phone companies used to do. They charged high termination fees so it was massively more expensive to call Vodafone from Spark or vice versa.
Paywave fees especially are massively high. Many retailers can’t afford to accept paywave.
Rod also looks at the future:
China is rolling out tens of thousands of electric buses per month. Almost everyone in Auckland has a phone to connect to transport network information and anonymously share their transport usage. We could build the smartest city network of autonomous buses chained together with software that dynamically configures the network each day so you no longer have to drive to park and ride. In Auckland, small buses could pick you up near your home in Albany and as your bus nears the bridge other buses are software chaining together, stopping briefly to allow you to change from bus B to E to take you to Westmere.
The future will be this far more than trains that can only go from Point A to Point B.