Treasury’s consultation process on a new independent infrastructure body has come at an opportune time, says Infrastructure NZ CEO Stephen Selwood
News that a major Chinese company has bid to build and operate the long-awaited Penlink project highlights the importance of an expert entity interfacing with the market and guiding procurement, he maintains.
“Penlink has sat on the books of both the Transport Agency and various Auckland councils for two decades now, and is planned to sit there another decade before anything happens.
“This is despite the project demonstrating a very strong economic return and the local community indicating they will pay a toll if it means getting the road built.
“Private sector investors and infrastructure companies have seen the opportunity and front-footed a solution, which is exactly what you want to happen when official processes get tied up.
“We have already seen NZ Super bring forward an unsolicited proposal for light rail in Auckland and we are aware of several domestic and international investors looking for opportunities to invest in New Zealand infrastructure projects.
“But it’s not clear in New Zealand who a company with an innovative infrastructure proposal should approach nor how their bid should be managed.
“The result can be frustration, wasted time and reduced competitiveness in the marketplace.”
With the establishment of an independent infrastructure body, the government will create a market-facing expert entity with expertise in infrastructure procurement and investment planning, Selwood believes.
“It will be able to develop, for example, a clear set of guidelines for unsolicited bids, such as that received for Penlink, and advise responsible agencies and ministers on a transparent, fair and efficient process.
“Consultation on the independent infrastructure entity is open until Friday October 26 and we encourage interested parties across industry to submit their thoughts,” Selwood adds.
The Treasury is seeking submissions on the possible functions and features of a new independent infrastructure body until 5.00 pm, Friday, October 26.
A short explanation of why a new independent infrastructure body is needed, and what it might do can be found here.
To read the consultation document, and find out how to make a submission on what the new body should look like, go to www.infrastructure.govt.nz .
Background papers are also available there to help inform your thinking.
A Treasury media release is available here.