Why Jacinda Ardern will need her bodyguards, Chris Hipkins’ hometown rallies behind the ‘boy from the Hutt,’ and when the housing market might turn around in the latest New Zealand Herald headlines. Video / NZ Herald
Could Jacinda Ardern take on a global tech role?
The former prime minister could follow in the footsteps of former UK deputy prime minister Sir Nicholas Clegg, who became Facebook’s president of global affairs, “forming policies
Tech industry leaders say it’s possible the former PM could appear in that sort of role, but they’re divided over whether it would be a good idea.
“There are two types of roles I imagine she would be incredibly attractive to the US tech companies for. Her passion and authority with regards to the Christchurch Call, or in a Nick Clegg VP-style role,” IT Professionals NZ chief executive Victoria MacLennan said.
Nick Clegg is the former leader of the Liberal Democrats and deputy PM of the UK.
“My concern with her continuing the Christchurch Call operation under only one company’s brand is that this has the potential to compromise the bigger picture view of how to address the elimination of violent extremist content online. It would be awesome if she was able to stay involved in the Christchurch Call in a broader capacity.”
Politicians turned tech industry figures
- Sir Nicholas Clegg: The Liberal Democrat, who served as UK deputy prime minister to the Conservative David Cameron from 2010 to 2015 during a coalition government, was named Facebook vice president of global affairs in 2018. In 2022, he was promoted to president for global affairs at Meta ( parent of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp)
- Sir John Key: The former PM and GCSB minister’s clutch of directorships includes a seat on the board of Nadaq-listed cybersecurity giant Palo Alto Networks (market cap: US$46 billion).
- Al Gore: The former US vice president and climate change crusader joined Apple’s board in 2003 and remains a director of the tech giant today. He is also a special adviser to Google and a senior partner at tech-focused venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins.
As for a Clegg-style role, “with so many challenges facing Aotearoa New Zealand it would be a pity for her power and global reach to be pinned to a multi-national and their vested interests,” MacLennan said.
Straker Translations CEO Grant Straker was one of the business people who accompanied Ardern on her May 2021 trade tour of the US.
Advertise with NZME.
“Many of us have had our moments on domestic politics but without a doubt she is a superstar overseas. She’s well-connected to world business leaders and that is very good for NZ businesses with the doors she can open.”
“The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying — the good, the bad and the ugly — so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box,” said Nick Clegg.
Yup but what about incitement to violence and misinformation?https://t.co/ftp0DV8374
— Chris Keall (@ChrisKeall) January 26, 2023
This week, Straker told the Herald: “She would be a fantastic ambassador for NZ tech if she did take up a global tech industry role. I think it would be hugely celebrated by the NZ tech industry if she did this.
“Whatever people think about her domestically, she wants NZ to succeed, is a global rockstar, gets how technology can do both benefit and harm, and is the best door-opener New Zealand business could ever hope for.”
Christchurch call failure
NZRise cofounder and Catalyst director Don Christie had mixed feelings.
“We have been lucky to have her [Ardern] over the past five and a half years, and the health and economic outcomes of the approach she and the Government took have put us at the head of the OECD. That doesn’t mean it’s been easy for anyone, least of all businesses in New Zealand,” he said.
“But in my view, if Ardern took a role akin to Nick Clegg’s this would be extremely problematic.
“One area I believe the PM has been unsuccessful in is the ‘Christchurch Call’ initiative. That is evidenced in many ways including by the extreme personal abuse she receives,” Christie said.
“Instead of holding Big Tech to account on so many fronts – taxation, monopolistic behaviour, promotion of extremism and misinformation – the NZ Government continues to roll out the red carpet for these companies to the detriment of our digital economy, local business and our economy independence. Our investment in R&D continues to be pathetically low and support for innovative Kiwi businesses is distressingly negligible.
Advertise with NZME.
“A move like the one you describe would only confirm this national failing.”
“My view is that the PM’s undeniable talents would be completely wasted on the Silicon Valley bros trying to astroturf their sullied reputations. Nick Clegg was always a second-rate politician. Ardern isn’t. She should go somewhere she can continue to make real change when she is ready for new challenges.”
MacLennan said: “Personally, I would hope she takes her time and finds a role that is the best fit for her, not leaping at the first opportunities presented. As a compassionate and capable leader the Prime Minister could turn her hand to anything, the world is her oyster.”