There is a heightened level of government consultation currently across several portfolios as the countdown to the 14 October election looms. This tsunami of public consultation indicates the narrowing window before the hiatus commence with the three-month period of the caretaker government and the protocol that no major policy decisions are made within this time. Over this past month we have undertaken the following activities:
- As mentioned, we have developed our first tranche of policy position papers which will act as a starting point for forthcoming conversations about the state of play in our industry ahead of the election.
- The INZ Funding and Financing working group had the opportunity to meet with the Auckland Light Rail team to canvass commercial opportunities associated with this exciting transport and urban development project. It was a really interesting discussion that drew on the wide experience of members with other developments internationally and in New Zealand. We expect there to be ongoing engagement as the corridor business cases progress.
- While we await the final Resource Management legislation’s report back from the Environment Select Committee, we have been keeping a watching brief on the development of the first National Planning Framework. It has been great to see some draft material emerging and targeted input being sought. It has also been good to the Ministry for the Environment publicly outlining the development process which will involve a Board of Inquiry ahead of the final legislation being passed.
- There is an awful lot happening in the transport sector. As well as the consultation on the options for a new Auckland Harbour Crossing, the Ministry of Transport and MBIE are also consulting on the electric vehicle charging infrastructure. We are preparing a submission on the Charging our Future Strategy which closes on 11 May. Further details on the strategy can be found here.
- The Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee has also called for submissions on the Land Transport Management (Regulation of Public Transport) Amendment Bill – with a closing date of 28 April. This Bill is important as it established changes to the current operating model which will support the decarbonisation of the public transport including proposed changes to the ownership of depots as significant capital investment needed for large-scale electric bus charging facilities.
- We are also expecting the Draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport to be issued for consultation during May. It will be particularly interesting to see any proposals around the cash strapped National Land Transport Fund’s revenue streams, particularly given the recent announcements by Minister Robertson that the fuel tax discounts will finish at the end of June.
The water legislation pond will remain murky for a while. We understand that the current two bills – the Water Services Legislation Bill and the Water Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Bill, will continue their course and be back in June as scheduled. However, following the announcement this month on the renamed Affordable Water reform by the new Minister for Local Government, Hon Kieran McAnulty, we can expect further legislation to bed in this changed approach. However, the window to progress this legislation is very tight with limited time available for Parliament and Select Committee to consider it this term.