New independent commission to tackle infrastructure issues

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineFebruary 21, 2019

A new independent infrastructure entity – The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission – Te Waihanga – will be established as an Autonomous Crown Entity to carry out two broad functions – strategy and planning and procurement and delivery support.

“The new commission will help ensure we are making the best decisions about infrastructure investment to improve the long-term economic performance and social wellbeing of our country,” said Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones.

“The commission will develop a broad consensus on long-term strategy, enable coordination of infrastructure planning and provide advice and best practice support to infrastructure initiatives.”

Jones said a short-term, project-specific focus by previous governments, along with under-investment, means New Zealand is now facing an unprecedented infrastructure deficit this Government is committed to tackling.  

He said the transport and urban infrastructure is struggling to keep up with population growth, increased demand and changing needs, including transitioning to a low emissions economy. New Zealand‘s regional infrastructure is often not at a standard required by communities, leading to, among other factors, congestion and lost productivity.

“Treasury estimates that net capital spending in the next five years will be more than double that of the previous five years, with the Government investing about $42 billion through to 2022. With this level of investment, we want to make sure we take a longer-term view and make decisions that align with our priorities to build a productive, sustainable and inclusive economy and improve the wellbeing of all New Zealanders.”

Jones said they received nearly 130 submissions on what a new infrastructure body should look like, and the overwhelming message was for it to have enough independence from government to have credibility with private sector infrastructure owners, market participants and local government, while also having a close relationship with ministers.

“We have heard that message, and we have delivered. Ministers will retain final decisions on infrastructure investments, but the commission will have an independent board and the autonomy it needs to provide robust, impartial advice. It will help hold this government, and future governments, to account and we welcome that,” Jones said.