May has seen Infrastructure New Zealand focus in on a selection of key submissions, our ongoing funding and financing and SME member insights workstreams, and our two delegations to Europe and the UK.

A group of 25 senior leaders have recently returned from a trip to Dublin, Belfast and Copenhagen on our first international delegation for the year, Partnering for Growth: Lessons from Europe.

The group was focused on learning from other advanced economies’ approaches to infrastructure funding, urban planning, major project delivery and water service provision. We were delighted to bring the group of delegates to Europe as we revisited the long-awaited delegation that was meant to go over in 2020 but was delayed as a result of Covid-19. Next month we are off to the UK, bringing a similar sized group to London, Manchester and Cardiff with a focus on city and regional deals, and water infrastructure funding. We look forward to sharing reports on findings from both trips on our return.

Key submissions since our last issue of InfraRead have included one on the Auditor General’s Making infrastructure investment decisions quickly report on the management and decision making on the New Zealand Upgrade and Shovel Ready programmes initiated in response to the anticipated negative economic effects of Covid-19 in 2020. The report focuses on how the Government made decisions on both programmes given the speed at which investment decisions were made, the scale of that investment and the projects’ long-term impact.

Our contribution in the report’s consultation period focuses on key lessons including clarity about outcomes being sought from investment, having clear project scoping and due diligence, and having greater transparency about how projects are tracking.

We also make recommendations on how the processes for government infrastructure investment and public reporting on government infrastructure investment could be strengthened and, in many areas, simplified, alongside improvements to the Investment Management System.

We invite you to view our submission on the INZ website.

We also have a submission to the Climate Change Commission due on 31 May, looking at three pieces of draft advice that the Commission has recently published for consultation. These focus on whether we should include international aviation and shipping emissions in the 2050 targets, a review of the 2050 targets themselves, and the proposed limit on emissions under the fourth emissions budget for 2036-2040.

In our submission, we strongly support the view that New Zealand must decarbonise, in part to retain international market access. Changing ESG expectations offshore put New Zealand in an enviable position if we can leverage our existing renewable mix to decarbonise our economy and exports.

However, the transition must be orderly, fair, and planned well in advance to set up the right incentives for investment.

Retaining predictability in the direction of travel, and ideally encouraging the right settings to improve the ratio of gross emissions reduction to sequestration via afforestation, alongside an encouragement of clarity and certainty in the how of meeting our net zero ambitions are key themes that permeate our submission to the Commission. We will upload the document to our website for viewing in the near future.

Our Policy Director, Michelle McCormick has also recently presented to the Environment Select Committee on the Government’s Fast-track Approvals Bill. The Press covered our submission.

The International Monetary Fund’s 2024 Article IV Staff Report on New Zealand has recently been published as well. Infrastructure New Zealand was consulted in the development of the report earlier this year. The document is available here.

Our Funding and Financing Working Group’s work to refine the PPP model and developing a model to bundle smaller ($25m-100m) infrastructure projects for private investment has continued at pace. We have just held the first of two workshops to test and discuss the models with experts from across the sector. We look forward to engaging with the wider INZ membership on the changes we have proposed, alongside targeted engagement sessions we have held with Government agencies.

We also recently hosted our held our first Small to Medium-Sized Business Policy Priorities Forum in partnership with Alta. The event gave us the opportunity to engage with our associate and SME members on the challenges and opportunities facing the sector and their businesses. We broke out into smaller groups to identify the specific hurdles SME and associate members face, delving into topics like pipeline uncertainty, procurement and business case processes and funding and financing as well as transport and water policy. More about their insights is included later on in this edition.

Following the Budget today, we will also provide member-only analysis of the key announcements impacting our members and the wider sector.