The milestone of the Government’s first 100 days in office has come and gone and their list of 49 action points have been ticked off. The pressure is now on to make real progress and deliver on more complex policies and election promises.

Legislation and other consultation

Early this month we welcomed the release of the new Government’s draft GPS on Land Transport 2024-34 including the signaled move to a 10-year GPS. A legislative change is, however, still required to enable this. This also heralded the Government’s commitment to building 15 new Roads of National Significance and a serious look at alternative funding sources (see Nick’s opinion piece in this issue). The INZ team also met with Ministry of Transport officials to gain further insights on the key proposals. INZ will be making a submission before the closing date of 2 April. There is a reasonably tight timeline to finalise the GPS by the statutory deadline of 30 June.

The new Fast-track Approvals Bill was introduced as promised on 7 March and had its first reading the following week before being referred to the Environment Select Committee. While welcomed by many involved in development and frustrated at endless consenting delays, there are potential concerns particularly as the approvals process covers not only the Resource Management Act but also other legislation such as the Wildlife Act, Reserves Act, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act, and Crown Minerals Act amongst others. It is good to see that a full Select Committee process will be followed with the report back due 7 September. In the absence of a new resource management and planning act, this is significant legislation which sets up a one-stop shop for advancing nationally and regionally significant infrastructure. The submission process will inevitably help identify improvements that can be made to the draft legislation, which has been developed at an accelerated pace (see article in this edition for in-depth discussion).

We have also been looking at the Electricity Authority’s consultation document on The Future of New Zealand’s power system which is seeking feedback on security and resilience issues in particular. We will make comment on some of the more strategic issues, including proactively addressing resilience issues, improving data on the system, more standardisation, addressing the first mover disadvantage with a more standard and fairer approach, and looking at workforce capability and capacity. Please get in touch if you are interested seeing our draft submission (email michelle.mccormick@infrastructure.org.nz).

Infrastructure New Zealand was invited to be interviewed as part of the annual visit to New Zealand from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These ‘Article IV missions’ are critical to international perceptions and expectations about the New Zealand economy, while the policy recommendations will inform Government policy choices going forward. As part of their information gathering, the IMF team conduct a series of meetings with both the public and private sectors. These discussions, along with independent IMF analysis, inform a report on the state of the New Zealand economy, including recommendations for policy changes. If you are interested, you can read last year’s IMF report here.

We also undertook an analysis of the relevant government ministry and agency Briefings for the Incoming Minster (BIMs) for our INZ members. This provides a useful overview of the issues and opportunities that officials saw in the infrastructure, local government, transport, building and construction, workforce training and Auckland portfolios.

Media engagement

During March we have maintained our presence in the media, continuing to raise the profile of infrastructure issues and encourage public engagement on these topics. Nick wrote an opinion piece for The Listener Increasingly partisan politics cannot be an ongoing handbrake to progress (paywalled).

Michelle McCormick, Policy Director, had an article in the Water Journal March/April edition: Improving Water Infrastructure Requires new Investment Strategies. Our media release on the new fast-track legislation was also widely picked up by media including the National Business Review, and included appearances on Newstalk ZB, and TVNZ news. We also issued a media release on the draft GPS on Land Transport supporting the Roads of National Significance and the wider use of tolls and alternative funding. This was picked up by the New Zealand Herald, Stuff and Newstalk ZB. Infrastructure New Zealand’s views were also sought on by media in the United Kingdom on the potential for PPPs.

Funding and financing

The INZ Funding and Financing Working Group has made significant progress with their work examining different procurement and financing arrangements that could be suitable for mega projects and also for smaller community and economic partnership projects or programmes in the health, education, defence, corrections and justice sectors. The GPS on Land Transport has signalled the need to widen revenue streams in the development of new transport projects, which is much needed. The fiscal constraints faced by the Government, combined with the need to urgently address our infrastructure deficit, mean that alternative funding and financing models are going to be increasingly considered. Following discussion at INZ and Brightstar’s Infrastructure Funding and Financing Conference on 26 March, next steps will include government sector engagement, straw-person model development and testing of this with a wider group of Infrastructure New Zealand members at future workshops.

Loading...