New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga Chief Executive Ross Copland says the Government’s response to New Zealand’s first Infrastructure Strategy recognises the challenges we face over the next 30 years and the change needed in our approach to infrastructure.
Released in May, the New Zealand Infrastructure Strategy, Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa, identifies these challenges, ranging from record construction cost escalation and severe workforce shortages, to ensuring that our infrastructure can cope with our changing climate and is ready for the rupture of the Alpine Fault. Infrastructure has also been tasked with doing most of the heavy lifting to meet the Government’s commitment to net-zero carbon by 2050, requiring a dramatic rethink of our transport and energy systems. The strategy sets out a principles-based approach for planning, delivering and maintaining our infrastructure and makes 68 recommendations for change.
The Government has shared its response to the strategy, showing overall support for the strategy’s principles and most of the recommendations made by Te Waihanga.
“In their response, the Government has emphasised the investment and reforms already underway that will help to address a number of the challenges outlined in the strategy. New Zealand has little capacity for additional substantive policy changes in the short-term and we therefore agree with the Government’s focus on seeing existing reforms through to conclusion as first priority.
“At the same time, it is vital that the vision and principles of the strategy are adopted and applied to the day-to-day investment, construction and operation of infrastructure as quickly as possible, so that we realise the immediate benefits of making better use of the infrastructure we already have, improving investment decisions, and tackling the inefficiency plaguing construction industry productivity,” Copland says.
“The strategy is clear that New Zealand faces serious infrastructure challenges that require immediate and sustained attention – there is no room for complacency. Currently the cost of building a house in New Zealand is doubling in less than four years, we’ll be over 100,000 skilled workers short by 2024, and we are only building a small fraction of the new electricity generation we will need to realise our net-zero carbon commitments. Central and local government, iwi and the private sector will need to work together to overcome these challenges and build a legacy for future generations that we can be proud of,” Copland says.
The Government intends to develop an action plan and reporting programme in the coming months that will set out the next steps for the recommendations that it supports. The action plan will include expected time frames and will identify which organisations will lead and contribute to individual actions.
“The action plan will be crucial to delivering the infrastructure transformation that’s required. Our team will be working hard with the sector to ensure the objectives of the strategy are realised. We’ll be closely tracking progress on the recommendations and providing regular updates to the Government,” Copland says.
Te Waihanga will also have an important role in recommendations the Government plans to progress ahead of the action plan. This includes further work on the Infrastructure Priority List recommendation which is intended to complement existing investment management frameworks. Te Waihanga will work with the Treasury and other agencies responsible for public investment to explore how an infrastructure priority list will work in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga seeks to transform infrastructure for all New Zealanders. By doing so our goal is to lift the economic performance of Aotearoa and improve the wellbeing of all New Zealanders. Established in 2019, we are an autonomous Crown entity, with an independent board.
The New Zealand Infrastructure Strategy is New Zealand’s first long-term national infrastructure strategy and is based on two years of independent research, public consultation and the views of more than 23,000 New Zealanders.