Infrastructure new Zealand MEDIA RELEASES

Our media releases keep you up to date with the latest infrastructure developments in New Zealand.

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  • 26 Nov 2018 1:22 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “The new Housing and Urban Development Authority (HUDA) will help the Government cut through red-tape to deliver urban regeneration in our largest cities, but to deliver affordable housing the Government must now turn its attention to greenfield development and wider policy reform,” says Stephen Selwood Chief Executive of Infrastructure New Zealand.

    “On Saturday, the Government announced that it will consolidate Housing New Zealand, HLC and Kiwibuild into a new fit-for-purpose urban development authority with powers to zone and deliver new communities.

    “This initiative is desperately required to cut through an existing local government, planning and funding system which is no longer fit for purpose.

    “The Resource Management Act’s effects-based approach to planning and consenting infrastructure and development has not only failed the environment but tipped the balance of decision making too far in favour of existing land uses and prevented New Zealanders from access to housing.

    “Councils are restricted by the laws in which they work and by constraints on funding and borrowing. Their world view also reflects the boundaries of their territory and responsibilities.

    “HUDA will be in a better position to manage wider and more complex national challenges around growth management, homelessness and cumulative environmental impacts, to name but a few.

    “Like the Government’s new infrastructure body, HUDA will have the capacity to integrate across agencies to ensure we deliver not just individual services, but communities and public outcomes.

    “Minister Twyford has described HUDA as being a market facing agency. This is fundamental as commercial expertise in urban development and the ability to work with private land owners, developers and infrastructure providers will be key to success.

    “HUDA will be critical to light rail’s success in Auckland and Wellington. Without rapid intensification along light rail corridors, demand for services will be insufficient to justify investment.

    “However, HUDA will not be able to deliver a functional housing market on its own.

    “To deliver housing that is affordable on New Zealand wages and salaries, policies like Auckland’s Rural Urban Boundary must be changed to enable new development at scale in greenfield locations.

    “Rural land prices need to be leveraged to pay for infrastructure while delivering homes under $400,000, not captured by a dysfunctional approach to zoning and growth management which sees new sections alone cost more than this.

    “The Government’s announcement two weeks ago of the Milldale development enables new infrastructure to be funded and financed away from councils, thereby relieving existing residents from concerns that they are subsidising growth.

    “The next logical step is for the Government to work with Councils and the private sector to acquire greenfield land at scale in suitable locations, rezone it for development, deliver the infrastructure and capture the value uplift to deliver affordable houses.

    “Major developers with an eye on building new homes at scale and pace to crack the housing crisis will now be keenly awaiting access to competitive land at prices New Zealanders can afford, consistent with the Government’s Urban Growth Agenda.

    “With both brownfield and greenfield policy reform effected, our cities will be able to grow fairly, affordably and sustainably and the Government can in 2019 turn its attention to the ultimate solution to the problem – reforming New Zealand’s unworkable local government, infrastructure funding and planning system,” Selwood says.


    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209

  • 20 Nov 2018 2:17 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “Long overdue reform of the water sector has created the opportunity for a first principles discussion of what local government can and should do and with what resources, so it is very pleasing to see the Government kick-starting this process,” says Infrastructure New Zealand CEO Stephen Selwood.

    “Operating infrastructure networks is a technical activity demanding flexible use of capital and strong asset management capability. When networks cut across political, environmental or regulatory boundaries challenges are compounded. This is not the comparative strength of local government.

    “Under the current model we have allowed council financing constraints to undermine investment in clean water, political constraints to underfund growth services and technical constraints to under-deliver capital work programmes.

    “This is not a good outcome and the Government’s announcement that it will start the conversation with councils about what local government is really for should be fully endorsed across the political spectrum.

    “We need local government representing the needs and views of people and communities, something larger government bodies and corporations cannot do, and we need regional government to lead economic development and spatial planning.

    “Councils need the right tools which incentivise and enable them to act in the best interests of constituents, regions and wider New Zealand.

    “With Minister Parker’s recent announcement that discussion of planning statutes will begin in 2019, now is just the time to consider all functions of local government – city and regional planning, regulation, infrastructure and community needs.

    “What everyone can agree on is that we need local government. This conversation provides the opportunity to repurpose its role to improving community wellbeing and focusing on people rather than operating pipes in the ground,” Selwood says.

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209

  • 13 Nov 2018 1:48 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “The announcement today of a pilot scheme to bring forward infrastructure for housing is a significant milestone and establishes a new direction for growing New Zealand’s cities,” says Stephen Selwood CEO of Infrastructure New Zealand.

    “The Government has announced that third party debt will be used to finance the roads and water infrastructure needed to unlock land for development in Milldale, north of Auckland.

    “Crown Infrastructure Partners will establish a ‘special purpose vehicle’ (SPV) to raise funds from investors, comprising itself, Fulton Hogan and the ACC, to enable the construction of bulk housing infrastructure which otherwise would be deferred.

    “Home owners will repay the SPV with an annual charge of between $650 and $1000 per annum.

    “This is a material additional cost to new homeowners, but the real benefit is that private finance for infrastructure will increase housing supply, making homes cheaper. Currently, lack of infrastructure means homes are not being built at the pace required and the cost of housing remains out of reach of many New Zealanders.

    “There should also be some combination of lower development charges or lower general rates to reflect the reduced dependency of Milldale homeowners on the Auckland Council. It is important that these homeowners are not asked to subsidise wider growth infrastructure across the region.

    “The real opportunity is expanding the model beyond Milldale and beyond Auckland to address the wider national housing crisis.  

    “If developers can access third party finance to bring forward bulk infrastructure investment, development can proceed at the pace and scale needed to deliver the productivity improvements critical to delivering enough homes to meet growth.

    “This approach is standard practice in the USA and enables that country to have one of the most flexible and responsive housing systems in the world.

    “There is no reason the approach will not work in New Zealand and, when combined with the promised reduction in planning restrictions, will overcome the greatest barrier to getting affordable homes delivered.

    “As long as general ratepayers carry the risk and cost of debt from new development there will be opposition to growth and investment in growth, which is in no one’s interest.

    “Legislation is needed to consolidate the model and allow it to be rolled out nationally.

    “This legislation will need to be clear on where the risk and responsibility for repaying debt sits. The Milldale initiative relies on debt, but for the model to be successful in meeting ongoing housing demand, developers will need to be able to partner with investors repaid on the basis of risk taken.

    “If risk is disproportionately allocated to developers, then the model will not lead to the increase in developable land required.

    “The sooner private capital can be injected into infrastructure for new development, the sooner growth cities like Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington and Queenstown can increase housing supply to meet demand,” Selwood says.

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209
  • 09 Nov 2018 11:55 AM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “The Government should move quickly to develop an agreed roadmap with the opposition, councils and business to replace the conventional vehicle fleet with electric and renewable fuel vehicles,” says Stephen Selwood, Chief Executive of Infrastructure New Zealand.

    “A new report released on Thursday by sustainability consultants thinkstep finds that up to 88 per cent of New Zealand’s 2015 transport carbon emissions can be eliminated by 2050 by shifting the light vehicle fleet to electric and trucks, trains, boats and planes to hydrogen or biofuel.

    “With greater ride sharing, public and active transport, New Zealand can reduce emissions by a further 2 per cent, indicating that a top transport priority for the Government should be facilitating the shift from conventional to electric and other renewable fuel vehicles.

    “When electric vehicles become cheaper to purchase than many conventional cars, which industry commentators predict may happen in the early 2020s, electric cars will be better for the environment, higher performing, cheaper to buy and cheaper to operate.

    “This not only means that electric cars will be more competitive versus alternatives, it also means there could be an opportunity to replace the vehicle fleet substantially faster, in line with new findings that emissions need to be reduced sooner.

    “If the Government sits down with all the key stakeholders, we may be able to reach early agreement on when and how to accelerate the shift, supporting a much faster transition.

    “Private vehicle owners, car dealers and infrastructure owners, including fuel retailers and the electricity industry, need to know now what New Zealand’s transport energy programme is and how fast the country wants to move. Agreement on the path ahead must be bi-partisan and not owned by any one party or Government.

    “Increasing the pace of change will require significant improvement to our planning laws and regulations.

    “While future power supply will include local solar photovoltaic generation supported by battery storage, large scale wind, geothermal, solar and possibly tidal power generation will also be needed.

    “Projections undertaken by the Productivity Commission and Transpower show that electricity generation may need to increase by between 50% and 100% to achieve net zero carbon emissions from transport by 2050.

    The last time New Zealand achieved this sort of increase in electricity supply was before the RMA was enacted in 1991. Updating New Zealand’s planning laws will be fundamental to a dramatic ramp up in renewable energy supply.

    “The electricity market review underway will need to ensure that regulation and market settings support innovation and enable investment in renewable electricity supply.

    “The motor industry is gearing itself to respond and the energy sector is actively exploring biofuel and hydrogen energy systems – no one wants a situation where public regulatory and policy settings are holding back progress.

    “Road pricing policy needs to be aligned with the road map so that the huge benefit of energy efficient vehicles is realised without compromising the means to fund future transport infrastructure.

    “The opportunity to materially reduce carbon emissions while delivering a superior outcome for consumers at lower cost is a unique opportunity and one which should be maximised.

    “Confidence in long term energy and transport policy is central to success. A robust evidence base and pragmatic decision making is critical to generating the cross-party and cross-industry consensus needed to catalyse investment.

    “New technology is rapidly changing the policy and planning framework under which governments work. The Government needs to review whether our frameworks are sufficiently flexible and responsive to respond to new opportunities.

    “An agreed and evidence based roadmap to transitioning our conventional vehicle fleet to alternative fuels is an urgent Government priority,” Selwood says.

    A copy of the thinkstep white paper Creating a positive drive: Decarbonisation of New Zealand’s transport sector by 2050 is available here: https://www.thinkstep.com/content/creating-positive-drive-decarbonisation-new-zealands-transport-sector-2050


    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209

  • 25 Oct 2018 3:21 PM | Anonymous

    Stephen Selwood talks with Local Government Magazine about the recent Building Nations Symposium and the need for a deep rethink on the role, purpose and structure of local government. Read the full interview here.

  • 25 Oct 2018 3:16 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “There are four ways to fund transport and other infrastructure and with the end of petrol tax increases it is now time we explored the other three,” says Stephen Selwood Chief Executive of Infrastructure New Zealand.

    “One, we tax people or businesses and use the revenue to deliver or subsidise investment.

    “Two, users pay. The most familiar options are tolls and public transport fares.

    “Three, other beneficiaries pay. Development levies charged on new homes to pay for the supporting infrastructure is an obvious example, but any tool which captures land value increases or wider economic benefits is beneficiary pays.

    “Fourth and finally, infrastructure providers can sell one asset to invest in another.

    “There are lots of ways to finance investment, including through loans, bonds and PPPs, but there are no other ways to fund infrastructure other than these four options. Regardless of the form of finance, debt must be repaid from some combination of taxes, charges, value capture or asset sales.

    “The good news is that we’ve only really explored the first. Petrol taxes, road user charges, rates and other taxes which go into the transport fund to pay for investment have now been exhausted and there is little public support to go further.

    “While general taxes which have driven the Government’s $5.5 billion surplus can and should be directed into infrastructure, it is time we looked much more seriously at more efficient alternatives.

    “Comprehensive, dynamic road tolling needs a clear path to implementation. The faster the uptake on electric vehicles, the sooner road pricing will become necessary. The public needs to know when and understand why road pricing is required.

    “Those who benefit from increased property values should also pay their share. The shift to compact, public transport-oriented development has enriched many property owners and pushed the less wealthy to the periphery of cities where they are more car dependent and more exposed to road taxes.

    “The Auckland Council Chief Economist has recently estimated that rapid transit has increased property prices near central Auckland stations by up to 20 per cent – that’s $200,000 of value on a million dollar home transferred to a lucky property owner, but paid for by all ratepayers and motorists.

    “It seems fair that these beneficiaries share the cost in some way.

    “Asset sales are the final option. All city councils across New Zealand own assets. Many of those assets are providing little return when the funds could be better invested in new infrastructure to support growth. Public opposition would reduce if the benefits are obvious for all to see.

    “A simple ballot can be used to depoliticise this debate, offering residents the choice between retaining ownership of an existing asset or investing in a better alternative.

    "We need to stop strangling growth by underinvesting in infrastructure. People will pay if they experience the benefit, but we need to give them the choice," Selwood says.

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209


  • 25 Oct 2018 9:45 AM | Anonymous

    Read the article and watch Stephen's interview here.

  • 11 Oct 2018 3:41 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “Lingering debate over the form of rapid transit to Auckland Airport reveals a lack of clarity about the role for light and heavy rail and this issue must be resolved when the business case is released,” says Infrastructure NZ CEO Stephen Selwood.

    “The public is understandably confused about the purpose of the Dominion Rd light rail project and its role within the wider transport system. They are also confused about the potential for heavy rail connections to and from the airport.

    “This is a symptom of a wider strategic issue of how heavy is to support the future growth and development of Auckland given the significant investment in the Central Rail Link currently underway.

    “Under standard practice, we would normally first ask what issue we’re trying to address – congestion, urban regeneration or access to the airport? – and then we would decide what investments are required.

    “With the decision to proceed with light rail effectively made before a business case has been developed, best practice has been diluted but not the need to be clear about what we’re trying to achieve. 

    “Is Dominion Rd light rail designed to reduce congestion, support urban development or provide a rapid transit link to the airport? Is it all three or something different?

    “If the purpose is to improve access to the airport, then the business case should demonstrate that light rail better serves this objective than alternatives, including heavy rail.

    “If the purpose of the project is to reduce congestion, then business case analysis must demonstrate improved travel times for general traffic commensurate with the investment being made by road users.

    “Alternatively, if the purpose of Dominion Rd light rail is to unlock and enable urban development, then the business case must present a coordinated land use plan indicating the residential and commercial property opportunity linked to the project’s delivery. This should include the rezoning which is required and the timeframes for development.

    “Importantly, if the objective is urban development, and if congestion and other transport benefits are not improved, then funding should be primarily sourced from urban development, rather than the National Land Transport Fund.

    “Targeted rates, capital gains taxes and land acquisition via an urban development authority are all options which should be assessed.

    “A strong, transparent business case, clarifying why the project is being delivered, its costs, benefits and how it will be funded and delivered will address public confusion over the reason for light rail and resolve the question of light or heavy rail to the airport,” Selwood says.

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209
  • 08 Oct 2018 2:29 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “Treasury’s consultation process on a new independent infrastructure body has come at an opportune time, with news that a major Chinese company has bid to build and operate the long awaited Penlink project highlighting the importance of an expert entity interfacing with the market and guiding procurement,” says Stephen Selwood CEO of Infrastructure NZ.

    “Penlink has sat on the books of both the Transport Agency and various Auckland councils for two decades now, and is planned to sit there another decade before anything happens.

    “This is despite the project demonstrating a very strong economic return and the local community indicating they will pay a toll if it means getting the road built.

    “Private sector investors and infrastructure companies have seen the opportunity and front-footed a solution, which is exactly what you want to happen when official processes get tied up.

    “We have already seen NZ Super bring forward an unsolicited proposal for light rail in Auckland and we are aware of several domestic and international investors looking for opportunities to invest in New Zealand infrastructure projects.

    “But it’s not clear in New Zealand who a company with an innovative infrastructure proposal should approach nor how their bid should be managed.

    “The result can be frustration, wasted time and reduced competitiveness in the marketplace.

    “With the establishment of an independent infrastructure body, the Government will create a market-facing expert entity with expertise in infrastructure procurement and investment planning.

    “It will be able to develop, for example, a clear set of guidelines for unsolicited bids, such as that received for Penlink, and advise responsible agencies and ministers on a transparent, fair and efficient process.

    “Consultation on the independent infrastructure entity is open until Friday October 26 and we encourage interested parties across industry to submit their thoughts,” Selwood says.


    Have your say

    Until 5.00 pm Friday, October 26, The Treasury is seeking submissions on the possible functions and features of a new independent infrastructure body.

    A short explanation of why a new independent infrastructure body is needed, and what it might do can be found here.

    To read the consultation document, and find out how to make a submission on what the new body should look like, go to www.infrastructure.govt.nz . Background papers are also available there to help inform your thinking. A Treasury media release is available here.

    Quality infrastructure planning and delivery is critical to New Zealand’s economic and social wellbeing. Have your say on this important issue until 5.00 pm 26 October 2018.

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Stephen Selwood on 021 791 20

  • 19 Sep 2018 1:40 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    New Zealand’s Women's Infrastructure Network (WIN) founder Sarah Lang was winner of the Chartered Accountants Australia and NZ Diversity category award at last night’s Women of Influence Awards in Auckland.

    “We are delighted that Sarah has been recognised for her outstanding leadership in the sector having established the Women’s Infrastructure Network in late 2016 and led its growth to seven chapters nationwide with over 1000 members today”, said Infrastructure New Zealand Chief Executive, Stephen Selwood.

    The award also recognised the contribution that Sarah has made to establishing many Māori employment initiatives including the Iwi Business Consortium, the Māori Graduate Placement Programme, Ngati Whatua Iwi Industry Employment Programme and Ti Hiku Employment Initiatives. This work has seen the placement of over 200 Māori employees into jobs across Northland and Auckland. Sarah has also established the Regional Homelessness Taskforce, championing the rights of the homeless.

    “When I joined the infrastructure world seven years ago I thought I was one of only a few women in the industry”, Sarah says, “but I soon found out that actually there are thousands of women across the sector”.

    “While not so many are CEO or Board level yet, by and large women comprise senior partners, directors, engineers, and first line managers undertaking work that is vital to the success of the industry. We want to re-position the industry as a leader in diversity”, Sarah says.

    “WIN NZ is connected to the global WIN network, operating in Canada, the USA, UK and Australia”, says Chair, Margaret Devlin.

    “Not only do we seek to grow the visibility of women in the sector and increase the number of women in leadership roles, WIN provides amazing networking opportunities for women across the sector.

    The diversity of professions involved - from contracting to engineering, banking, insurance, public sector and legal, consulting and financial professions among others – provides immense opportunity for sharing knowledge and building a network of connected professionals.

    “Sarah took the vital step to not only set up the network but has led its development from strength to strength. It is fantastic that those efforts have been recognised by this award”, Devlin says.

    Infrastructure New Zealand Chair Patrick Brockie says “Diversity brings different ideas and perspectives to the industry which is essential to us delivering better outcomes. It is also key to building capability and capacity across the infrastructure sector and the long-term sustainability of the industry”.

    “Sarah has set the bar. We now look for WIN to continue to grow its influence and presence within industry management teams and around the board table.

    “Infrastructure New Zealand’s goal is to see continued material progress on greater diversity, whether at Board or executive management levels or on-site leading of delivering major infrastructure projects”, Selwood says. “We won't let up until that goal is achieved.”

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209
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