housing and other regionally specific services to an empowered and capable
regional government would improve national outcomes by strengthening delivery
and incentivising all of government to work towards shared objectives,” says
outgoing Infrastructure NZ CEO Stephen Selwood.
“Current outcomes for
economic, social and environmental performance across New Zealand are poor
relative to what might be expected from such a transparent and efficient public
“That’s because the
institutions delivering these services are not incentivised by the funding
system to implement outcomes, on one hand, and aren’t empowered to meet
challenges on the other.
“We must change the
relationships between New Zealand’s governing institutions if we want to really
tackle tough issues like the housing crisis and respond to climate change.
“There must be much
greater collaboration not just across central government, but between central,
regional and local government. This will create a forum for iwi, communities
and business to help shape New Zealand’s future wellbeing.
“That’s very hard under
New Zealand’s effects-based and adversarial RMA planning regime, our
input-oriented State Sector Act and poorly funded Local Government and Land Transport
“New legislation is
required to separate planning and development from environmental management.
“A new National
Development Plan will set direction from central government. Enhanced regional
governments will generate regional spatial plans which will integrate public
services and translate investment into outcomes. Local councils will use
existing land use planning powers to give effect to spatial plans.
“But plans aren’t worth
the paper they’re printed on if they cannot be implemented.
“Council rates comprise
just 7 per cent of tax in New Zealand. Central government controls the rest –
amongst the highest in the world.
revenue in a small country like New Zealand creates economies of scale, but
centralising 93 per cent of revenue makes the Government accountable for 93 per
cent of the problems.
self-reliance, innovation and customer-centricity in our local and regional
government sector to the clear frustration of all Kiwis. Just 40 per cent of
voters turned out at the last local body elections.
delegations we have led suggest New Zealand would benefit from a more equal
relationship between regional and local government, allowing solutions tailored
to the local and regional level but aligned to critical national outcomes.
“Changes to funding and
delivering public services are required.
needs to step back from delivery and move into a greater system oversight role.
The Government is the only institution capable of overseeing the country as a
whole. When it’s delivering services, it is focusing on the small at the
expense of the big.
“Regions need to be
reinvented to spatially plan, deliver spatially-specific services and promote
regional outcomes, including economic development. Housing and transport could
be devolved to regions, and central government could crack the whip to make
sure problems get solved.
“A balanced scorecard
will be published, rating regional government from A to D on things like
alignment to national outcomes and value for money.
controls 93 per cent of taxation in New Zealand, among the highest in the
world. Devolving some funding to regions based on the A to D ratings would
incentivise them to compete for sustainable development.
“With the water sector
consolidating into regional water service providers, local councils could
prioritise the things they’re good at: representing their community, tackling
local issues and building their identity.
“We could have greater
local representation, together with reinvigorated regional representation and a
central government focused on bringing it all together.
reforms are on the right track, but by centralising more responsibility there
is a risk of increased policy uncertainty every three years and reduced agility
to respond to pressures.
systems internationally use “place” as the means to integrate services and
deliver outcomes and an enhanced regional government model here could do the
same,” Selwood says.
Infrastructure NZ report, Building Regions: A Vision for local government,
planning law and funding reform can be found here.
here to view Infrastructure New Zealand's latest report.
For further information and comment contact Paul
Blair on 021 902 436