“New Zealand continues to miss opportunities in its infrastructure delivery, efficiency and scale by solely relying on the Government to fund improvements to our roads, public transport, resilience and water infrastructure.”
That’s the message from Infrastructure New Zealand as it contemplates Budget 2023.
“More plans, more apparent pots of money, but the funding pool remains the same and the only source is from the back pocket of the taxpayer. New Zealand badly needs to access private capital to inject into a sustainable building plan for our infrastructure,” says Infrastructure New Zealand Chief Executive, Nick Leggett.
“As a country, New Zealand doesn’t lack for promises, plans or ambition. However, it often lacks action in getting infrastructure projects built. Budget 2023 doesn’t deal with that problem.”
Nick Leggett said that while encouraged by the funding for an expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, in partnership with the private sector, projects like a second Auckland harbour crossing and Get Wellington Moving, require capital that the Government just doesn’t have.
“Further focus on private financing of infrastructure would build New Zealand better, and faster.”
Nick Leggett warmly welcomed the announcement of a new National Resilience Plan, with initial funding of $6B to focus on building back better from recent weather events.
“Stronger, more resilient infrastructure investment is key. Addressing vulnerabilities in our roading networks is critical and the $279m investment package for State Highways that will focus on slip prevention, flood mitigation and managing sea level rise risk, is an excellent start.”
Waka Kotahi will now also be able to action their State Highway Resilience Plan which was developed back in 2020. Infrastructure New Zealand is concerned however that this Budget is yet another announcement of ‘big money’, without a plan or practical understanding of how to get things built.
Nick Leggett added, “with some exceptions this Budget doesn’t solve the immediate and long-term challenges facing New Zealand’s poor public infrastructure. You can only hit the ball out to the future with big dollar promises for so long before people start feeling the reality of decades of underinvestment with a shallow funding pool and a workforce shortage. Our question to the Government is, how are you going to deliver this?”
“The investment in young people’s public transport fares in this Budget is positive, however investment is also needed in the public transport system to ensure that our buses and trains even turn up. Reliability and punctual services are the most important factors for the public.
Infrastructure New Zealand has called on all political parties to think long term about infrastructure decision making and steer away from politicking around projects and investments.
“A pipeline of essential work should be guaranteed outside of election cycles and budgets, with funding locked in. That way the sector can prepare a workforce and have the kind of skills on hand to make these builds a reality.”