Case for Change

New Zealand’s infrastructure faces a historic period of deep and intergenerational change. Historic, because many of the challenges we face are new and uncertain; deep, because it impacts all parts of our society; and intergenerational, because the effort must be sustained, not over months and years, but decades.

We must be smarter about how we plan, build and use our infrastructure.

We’re building new infrastructure and more is planned for the future. We currently spend around 5.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) on building public infrastructure. This means that for every $20 New Zealand earns, we spend around $1 on infrastructure. This includes our roads, water networks, hospitals, schools and defence facilities (but doesn’t include privately provided infrastructure like electricity generation and telecommunications). If we were to simply keep doing what we’ve always done and try to build our way out of current and future infrastructure challenges, it would cost almost double what we’re spending now.

Responding to the challenges doesn’t always require a new physical asset. Building infrastructure will still be an important part of the solution, but we also need to get better use out of our existing infrastructure. When we do build something new, there are changes we can make to get more value from what we spend. We can make better decisions about the projects we select and streamline delivery so that infrastructure is built more quickly and productively.