Important policy and legislative developments have landed today which could enable a bolder, more streamlined way of delivering new infrastructure for the benefit all New Zealanders, says Infrastructure New Zealand CEO Paul Blair
New government announcements and a Productivity Commission report this week are reiterating that New Zealand needs new ways of working together, brought together by a coherent vision, to dramatically change outcomes for the better.
First, new Infrastructure Funding and Financing (IFF) legislation was introduced to the House today with bi-partisan support. IFF is a new, user-pays tool for funding local roading and water infrastructure.
The biggest obstacle to adequate land supply, and therefore affordable housing, in New Zealand’s cities is that our growth councils have insufficient funding for this local infrastructure.
IFF will provide a new way to fund infrastructure outside our traditional council-led methods, accelerating the supply of infrastructure-provisioned land instead of our cities choking at the cost of affordable housing.
Second, the Productivity Commission’s final report on Local Government Funding and Financing, also released today, calls for greater use of volumetric charges on drinking and wastewater, as well as road pricing, which can both manage demand and raise vital infrastructure funding revenue.
The Commission also calls on the Crown to pay their fair share of local infrastructure costs, including through rates and development charges, and to support the local costs that they benefit from (e.g., climate change costs and flood protection works).
Third, today’s Upper North Island Supply Chain final report recommends moving the Ports of Auckland by 2034.
Pleasingly, the Government has instructed the Ministry of Transport to investigate options and impacts and officials will work with the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission – Te Waihanga to ensure the right long-term decisions are made for New Zealand.
Critical governance, timing, commercial, and environmental questions will be answered through this process which can bring communities, business, and iwi into this nationally important decision.
Finally, the Environmental Defence Society released their synthesis report A model for the future last night which undertook a first-principles look at the resource management system.
The report emphasises the need for significant revision of not just the Resource Management Act, but also local government institutions, spatial planning, and funding.
Today’s announcements, alongside a string of further initiatives relating to water, development, and other infrastructure are part of an ambitious programme of reform.
What is now needed is a consolidated national development plan which aligns these reforms, explains them in terms of their role in achieving the Government’s national development vision, and provides a clear direction for local government and the private sector to implement national policy.
These important reforms will significantly change our infrastructure delivery platform. However, they are practical but short-term steps towards a coherent, long-term and nationally aligned vision for Aotearoa.
Infrastructure New Zealand applauds the scale of ambition behind these changes, but we look forward to a national conversation about the 30+ year vision for the lives that all New Zealanders want to live and the national development plan that aligns us all to deliver that vision at pace.