Parliamentary Questions

On Thursday the 18th of November, the WLUG was privileged to have RodneyHide, the leader of NewZealand's ACT political party, address us. See the MeetingTopics.2004-11-18 page for an outline of this enjoyable meeting.

Rodney is interested in open source software and told us about the powers of an opposition MP to ask questions of government departments regarding their use. He has offered to submit ParliamentaryQuestions on our behalf, which are written questions that must be answered within five working days. Rodney will endeavor to assist us in formulating these in the most effective manner.

Please note that the WLUG are not affiliated with any political party (and don't even have a leaning). This is not a "Government bashing" or "Microsoft bashing" exercise; this is a method to further the goals of the WlugCharter in advocating Linux and OpenSource software.

Also, anyone can edit this page - if you're going to discuss this project, doing so on this page ensures that everything you say can be taken on board and included in the process.

Rules for questions

There are specific rules relating to the content of questions, see for details.

Questions must also contain specific information, before adding a question to this page please ensure it contains the following information

  • Name of Minister question is directed too, AND
  • The specific portfolio held by that Minister, Note: ensure that your question is actually relevant to this portfolio
  • Specific details (including dates if possible) of the question you wish to ask
  • References to support any assertions that you make.


Research Funding for Open Source Software

Question Directed To: Hon. Steve Maharey
Portfolio: Research Science and Technology

Out of all research and partnership grants funded by the Foundation for Research Science and Technology in the finiancial year ending 31 March 2005, what proportion of these grants were given to companies or individuals developing Open Source Software (as defined by the Open Source Institute and does the Foundation have policies intended to encourage the development of Open Source Software which will benefit all New Zealanders?

Consideration of Open Source Software in Government Software Procurement

Question Directed To: Hon. Trevor Mallard
Portfolio: State Services

In 2003 the E-government group of the State Services Commission produced a report entitled "Open source software: briefing to the Minister of State Services" ( detailing success overseas and in New Zealand with Open Source Software deployments. The report recommended that State Service Departments consider the use of Open Source Software on the basis of cost, functionality, interoperability, and security;

As a result of this policy, how many State Service Departments initiated Open Source Software deployments, and does the State Services Commission have any plans to re-evaluate the possible benefits of this policy?

Publication of Information in Proprietary File Formats

Question Directed To: Hon. Trevor Mallard
Portfolio: Education

Microsoft Word is a popular text editing and document presentation application commonly used by many Government departments. Word documents are stored in the commonly known .doc format. Microsoft describes Word documents as an "Internal File Format" which is not safe for distribution outside of a company as it contains:

  • Revision history which may include previous changes not intended to be releasd
  • Executable code that supports the propogation of Viruses and other Malware

In addition, Word documents often look different on different computers, which can re-arrange the formatting, moving page breaks, etc.

Given these problems why does the Ministry of Education continue to threaten the safety of users of its website and render itself liable to embarassing leaks of confidential information by providing documents in .doc format on its website when the documents are already available in open file formats such as PDF.

Development of Education Software with a New Zealand Focus.

Question Directed To: Hon. Trevor Mallard
Portfolio: Education

Much of the English-language software available for primary and secondary education is from the USA. As a result, this software often has features such as voices with American accents and references to American history, culture, and values. How much money (if any) did the Ministry of Education spend in the 2004 and 2003 financial years acquiring software written specifically for a New Zealand audience? Would the Ministry be more likely to commission software if the software was under an Open Source license so that schools do not need to pay on-going license fees?

Other things we need to phrase into questions:


  • Removed Patent questions as this issue is currently in review by Select Committee? after the consulation period ended 11 March 2005, The written question rules state that questions must not address issues that are currently being discussed in committee.
  • Remove all the general questions regarding why does department X not do this as the sample of departments I looked at while tidying this page were not in error. If you have specific examples feel free to add a question.