Infrastructure new Zealand MEDIA & RELEASES

Our media releases keep you up to date with the latest infrastructure developments in New Zealand.

  • 22 Jan 2016 11:12 AM | Anonymous

    29 October 2014 

    "A variable motorway user charge of around $2.00, higher at peak and lower off peak, is the best way to fund and manage Aucklands transport system," says Stephen Selwood Chief Executive of the NZ Council for Infrastructure Development.

    This follows release of the Independent Advisory Body (IAB) report to Auckland Council on future transport funding options for Auckland. The report identifies two possible pathways rates and fuel tax increases and tolls on new roads or charging motorway users a toll of around $2.00 on average per trip.

    Managed correctly, variable charging will enable motorways to run much more smoothly, like they do in the school holidays.

    People will choose to travel at different times, go another way, ride share, walk, cycle or take public transport. That means those who pay the toll will benefit through a faster trip on the motorway meaning better productivity for business and less time wasted in log jammed motorways for commuters.

    "The money raised will support new investment in motorways, local roads, walkways and cycle ways and public transport services that would not otherwise be possible. The more people who choose alternatives to motorway travel because of the tolls, the better it will be for motorway users who choose to pay a toll.

    From a New Zealand perspective, the most important thing to note is that the economic benefits of Motorway User Charges are more than three times greater than the Rates and Fuel Tax pathway. Thats because direct charging changes behaviour more significantly than increases in general taxes, Selwood says.

    Doing nothing or deferring a decision would be unwise

    The work of the Independent Advisory Body clearly shows that failure to raise the extra $300 million per annum needed to invest in the future transport system will lead to serious congestion across Auckland, much worse than today. While investment and charges will not solve congestion in a growing city, they will enable us to manage growth far more effectively, Selwood says.

    The longer we take to decide, the bigger the problem in the future will be.

    The IAB did not specifically recommend either of two funding pathways - rates and petrol taxes or a motorway user charge but it clearly sees merit in the motorway user charge because it will both raise the money needed and help reduce congestion on the motorway system.

    There will be a need to add capacity to some arterial roads to handle additional traffic but the transport modelling shows that traffic diversion onto arterial roads is manageable.

    The system will use number plate recognition technology identical to that already in use on the Northern Gateway toll road.

    Cordon schemes like London and Stockholm were discounted because, unlike motorway charges, there would be no option to go another way, the camera gantries would have high visual impact in local communities and cordons would seriously distort travel behaviour inside and outside of the ring.

    Polls indicate support for tolls

    Backing motorway charges over rates and petrol tax increases is consistent with a Horizon market research poll commissioned by NZCID in 2012 which clearly showed that Aucklanders will support low level variable tolls on Auckland's motorways, if this reduces congestion and helps fund major transport projects.

    The survey of 1016 Aucklanders analysed the impact of congestion on people's lives and probed into how much they might be prepared to pay to address the problem.

    Tolls were the only funding method surveyed attracting majority support, both in principle and for different prices charged for peak, inter-peak and off peak travel. Across the whole group, 63% supported for tolls in principle and 36% were opposed.

    Tolling in principle was supported by 47% of those who use the motorway system twice a day or more. This in-principle support arises following an explanation that:

    a range of options for tolling the motorways was being considered 
    higher tolls in busy periods would incentivise commuters to drive at different times, use different routes, car pool, take public transport or walk or cycle
    this would reduce traffic on the motorways, meaning faster journeys for users of the tolled network, and tolls would also raise revenue for investment in new transport solutions including roads and public transport services.

    The survey found that congestion is already having a big toll on people and business. Large numbers of respondents believed traffic congestion is getting worse (57.3%) and even more (70.9%) believed it will get worse in the future.

    Greatest adverse impacts respondents listed were increasing fuel costs (70.9%), longer commuting times (67.6%), reducing time for other activities (61%), causing stress (60.8%) and stopping respondents and members of their households from travelling at certain times (50.4%).

    The survey showed that people support the need to invest in Auckland's transport system and that they understand that pricing the motorways at different amounts by time of day will positively influence when and how people travel.

    "In that sense direct user pay tolls looks to have a much more positive reaction than simply increasing rates and petrol taxes and putting tolls on new roads.

    We would encourage Aucklanders to provide that feedback to Auckland Council when it consults on which of the two funding pathways it is considering," Selwood says.


  • 22 Jan 2016 11:11 AM | Anonymous

    Media Statement 
    3 October 2014

    Transport agency proposals to address East-West traffic flows released for public consultation yesterday will help address urgent freight needs in the Penrose-Onehunga area in Auckland. But the long term solution must be one which connects Aucklands commercial and industrial heartland in Penrose, Mt Wellington and East Tamaki and also caters for planned residential intensification and growth from the eastern suburbs to the airport, says Stephen Selwood CEO of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.

    In order for Aucklanders to provide worthwhile feedback on the proposals it is essential that they understand the full benefits and costs of each option and the long term strategic implications.

    The options proposed are concentrated on the Onehunga-Penrose catchment zone which, while still the largest in terms of employment, represents just one fifth of the $11 billion per annum generated across the industrial zones bordering the Manukau Harbour and Tamaki Estuary. Little information has been provided, to date, on the benefits, costs and strategic implications of the alternatives proposed.

    Connectivity to East Tamaki as well as further south to Mangere and on to the airport is not planned for improvement in these proposals, except through improved bus movement.

    How these areas will be connected into the future has great bearing on what the appropriate solution is for this first phase of investment.

    One option considered in earlier analysis included a motorway south of the Manukau Harbour. It provided long term connectivity not only between the industrial areas, but for all communities in the east of Auckland accessing employment and the airport.

    It was almost immediately terminated following public reaction, leaving a northern Manukau Harbour solution as the most politically acceptable. However, given that the proposals released yesterday provide no new east west connectivity for Glen Innes, Panmure, Howick, Pakuranga, Botany and the industrial areas of East Tamaki and Mt Wellington it is not clear how existing and projected growth demand in these areas will be addressed.

    Too often major projects in New Zealand are developed in a piecemeal fashion and modified and reduced to satisfy environmental and local interests without adequate consideration of strategic implications or the relative cost of lost accessibility and reduced economic efficiency.

    The East-West connection is a critical corridor linking not just the two busiest stretches of motorway in the country and three of the largest employment zones, it is a strategic link on the national highway network providing long term resilience and capacity for all road users crossing the city from east to west.

    It is critical that this project is seen as a strategic east west link for Auckland. That means providing adequate capacity to and through Aucklands industrial heartland and supporting network connectivity region-wide, Selwood says.

  • 22 Jan 2016 11:10 AM | Anonymous

    Jointly owned urban development agency for Christchurch worthy of consideration

    Media Statement 
    2 September 2014

    Given the strategic importance of the Canterbury rebuild, it is logical that the transition from emergency governance arrangements is overseen by the Prime Ministers office, but to maintain momentum in the city centre an expert development agency is an option that should be investigated, says Stephen Selwood CEO of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.

    CERA has successfully overcome immense challenges in the wake of the devastating Canterbury earthquakes.

    With the emergency response function of CERA largely addressed and the rebuild underway, it is appropriate that longer term governance arrangements are now investigated.

    Ultimately, responsibility for communities affected by the earthquakes will need to be restored to local authorities. Migrating CERA into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet will help ensure CERA remains focused on the recovery while options are considered.

    However, as the Governments role in Canterbury gradually becomes less overt, and as local authorities, particularly the Christchurch City Council, assume wider responsibilities, there is a risk that politics begins to impede progress.

    In no place is there likely to be greater potential for cross-governance friction than in the central city. The scale of central government investment there is such that the Government can never fully extract itself from decision making processes, something the city council will increasingly find impedes its efforts to deliver its objectives.

    The Government is either going to have to surrender some decision making authority over national resources to a local authority or a third party acting on behalf of both institutions.

    Given the success of specialist urban redevelopment agencies overseas, including in Australia, it makes a lot of sense that such an organisation be considered to undertake delivery of the central city Blueprint on behalf of the Government and Christchurch City Council.

    Aside from depoliticising such an important and sensitive issue, establishing an independent dedicated body will facilitate appointment of highly skilled specialists in urban redevelopment, procurement and delivery who understand market drivers and can deliver on identified outcomes.

    These have not traditionally been the kind of skills maintained by government and after the central city rebuild is complete it is not likely that these skills will be required further.

    The Governments announcement that it will appoint a body to provide advice on transition arrangements provides the opportunity to objectively consider all options for the effective governance, procurement and delivery of the Canterbury rebuild.

    A jointly owned local and central government urban development agency with independent governance and specialist procurement and delivery capability is an option worthy of detailed consideration, Selwood says.


  • 22 Jan 2016 11:09 AM | Anonymous

    Media Statement 
    1 August 2014

    The Christchurch and Auckland councils should embrace the highly successful asset recycling approach employed in Australia to alleviate community concerns over needed asset sell-downs, says Stephen Selwood CEO of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.

    Asset recycling partial or full sell-down of capital in existing assets to fund identified new assets for the community has been used successfully in Australia to deliver much needed investment in the face of initial public concern.

    For example, the sale of Newcastle Port was eventually embraced in New South Wales after it was made clear that proceeds would be directed into infrastructure and the rejuvenation of Newcastle city.

    The public were thus able to consider in a tangible way whether they wanted a revitalised central city and new and better infrastructure or maintain ownership in the port.

    This approach is a smart alternative for ratepayers in Christchurch and Auckland and was highlighted by Cameron Partners in their report on options for managing Christchurchs financial challenges, released today.

    By recycling capital tied up in existing assets Christchurch will improve its capacity to invest in a productive, innovative and world-class city.

    The Auckland Council could accelerate investment in much needed transport infrastructure by doing the same.

    What local communities demand is transparency. They need clear understanding of what assets will be sold, where and how the money will be reinvested, and what the social and economic payback will be. What the national community demands is that locals contribute fairly towards projects which call upon national resources but which also have significant local benefits.

    Asset recycling gives the community this choice. If Australia is anything to go by, politicians will be pleasantly surprised at the level of community support for asset recycling, provided the benefits exceed the costs, Selwood says.

  • 22 Jan 2016 11:08 AM | Anonymous

    Transmission Gully PPP brings innovative approach to transport infrastructure investment in NZ

    Media Statement 
    29 July 2014

    After many decades of frustration, Wellingtonians can now look forward to a resilient and efficient roading connection to the rest of the North Island, due in large part to alternate financing arrangements which overcome institutional barriers to major transport investment, says Stephen Selwood, CEO of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.

    The billion-dollar Transmission Gully mega-project is a vital link in the Wellington Northern Corridor Road of National Significance, providing a much more effective strategic connection between Wellington city and the territories north of Paekakariki. Employment centres, activities and, potentially, entire industries will be made possible by improved connectivity between the lower North Islands population centres and Wellingtons central business district, port and airport.

    The new corridor will replace the fragile coastal segment of State Highway 1 north of Tawa which is vulnerable to both flooding and earthquakes, and will save many lives on what is currently one of the most hazardous stretches of road in the country.

    Despite the clear strategic merit of this project, Transmission Gully has been deferred for decades because of its comparative high cost. Conventional cost-benefit analysis does not adequately recognise regional growth potential, land use and other transformational benefits which lie at the very heart of Transmission Gully and the pay-as-you-go National Land Transport Fund is not geared for billion-dollar projects which consume such a disproportionate share of annual resources.

    The Governments elevation of inter-regional investment through the RoNS initiative and NZTAs expansion of transport evaluation to recognise the importance of strategic corridors like Transmission Gully both deserve commendation for overcoming the barrier posed by narrow economic analyses.

    The funding challenge was overcome by the first ever use of private finance in a New Zealand transport project.

    By employing a public-private partnership or PPP model, NZTA are able to leverage private capital to advance Transmission Gully as a single project. Not only does this enable the economic, safety and strategic benefits of the project to be brought forward, but the successful Leighton-led consortium have been able to demonstrate over the past year that efficiencies in project delivery and risk transfer away from tax payers has been sufficient to offset the cost of private debt.

    This is a significant innovation in transport infrastructure investment in New Zealand. It caps off a mixed week following the Environmental Protection Authoritys consent for Puhoi to Warkworth, but cancellation of approval for the Basin Flyover.

    Maybe its time to go to the market and seek innovative solutions to solving transport connectivity across, around or under the Basin Reserve in Wellington? Selwood asks.

  • 22 Jan 2016 11:07 AM | Anonymous

    Media Release 
    3 July 2014

    New Zealand will not achieve the governments target to build 35,000 affordable homes in six years unless we throw out old ways of thinking, says New Zealand Infrastructure chief.

    Stephen Selwood, Chief Executive of Infrastructure New Zealand is speaking at this weeks Community Housing Aotearoa conference in Nelson and says the old ways of building homes, house by house and builder by builder have got to go.

    Our culture has been around the quarter acre pavlova paradise. A single house on a single section built one by one, block by block. But if we really want to reduce the cost of housing we need to reduce the amount of land we consume, build up instead of out and shift to modular construction of new homes at scale. We should be looking at developments of five hundred or more homes at a time. We need to be creating new communities to achieve the transformation we need.

    Stephen Selwood says New Zealand is lagging behind countries such as Australia and Canada where strong partnerships between community housing organisations and private sector developers have been successful in creating mixed tenure mixed development communities at scale.

    In New Zealand, he says there is resistance to intensified redevelopment exemplified by the objections to Auckland councils unitary plan.

    People have not seen what good urban development looks like and when you start talking about intensification it conjures up student apartment developments in Aucklands CBD or high rise isolated tower buildings in Britain and people dont want a bar of it.

    He says New Zealand needs good examples to show there is a good way of achieving intensification. A model development on land in Tamaki offers an ideal opportunity.

    The Creating Communities redevelopment of 270 new homes in Northern Glen Innes is a good start. The initiative will create more housing choices in the area including homes for first home buyers and for the general market, as well as 78 new state homes. A key part of the plan is to build on strengths of the community that exists in Glen Innes, encouraging new opportunities, and enhancing a greater sense of community pride and belonging.

    Id like to see this kind of development extended further with strong partnership between the development industry, equity investors including iwi, the banks and community housing organisations providing place management and wrap around support services for those who need it.

    In Glenn Innes, we need to create a whole new community thats a nice place to live, affordable to buy into, has good amenities around it and provides good social interaction. There needs to be a mixture of private and social housing and mixed tenures alongside amenities like shopping, parks, and relative proximity to jobs, he says. 
    Stephen Selwood says the government could provide state housing land and go to community housing organisations and private sector providers and ask them what it would take to deliver what is needed.

    He says more leadership from government is needed to support interest from the community and business sectors. Government will also need to provide subsidy through transfer of existing state housing stock or commitment of existing social support budgets to fund the provision of necessary wrap around services for socially disadvantaged tenants. But if existing budgets can be redeployed to deliver better long term results that has to be a good outcome for government and the local communities.

    The government is slowly making changes with its support for community housing organisations creating a competitive model to the traditional Housing New Zealand model, but could do more to put long term funding and settings in place.

    Community Housing Organisations are doing a fantastic job. We need more partnerships between them and our urban property developers who specialise in this redevelopment delivery model at scale. Lets test the model.

  • 22 Jan 2016 11:06 AM | Anonymous

    Media Statement 
    16 June 2014

    The draft 2015 Government Policy Statement reaffirms the Governments commitment to transport investment and will continue the countrys progress towards an internationally competitive transport system. But one cant help but wonder whether an opportunity to establish this GPS as the new global benchmark in forward planning has gone begging, says Stephen Selwood CEO of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.

    The GPS in fact signals a slight easing of investment, with total targeted expenditure in 2021/2022 $150m less than that projected in 2012, though this figure does not include projects such as Aucklands City Rail Link which, appropriately, is likely to be funded through general Crown accounts. Once included, Government spending on transport over the next decade will be a record breaker.

    Thats good news for commuters and for freight. Lifting investment has had large positive impacts in Auckland, where the first Road of National Significance has already been delivered, and many further regions stand to benefit from improved access over coming years.

    This GPS is also notable for acknowledging the potential for new funding and delivery mechanisms, including road pricing and private finance. These activities are essential to leveraging public investment and improving efficiency over the network.

    But while this draft GPS is, like many of its predecessors, a commendable improvement on previous iterations, it remains a product of the past. It presents a future of conventional road, balanced against traditional safety, public transport and other objectives which are increasingly distant from the transport revolution currently occurring across the world.

    Vehicles that run on electricity, talk to one another and drive themselves are the future. They will be cheaper to run, reduce journey times and offer unprecedented flexibility to meet 21st century needs. They will break down the existing interface between public and private vehicles and revolutionise the way people and societies interact.

    Although these vehicles and other technological advancements remain a long way from car yards, it is imperative that rules, guidelines and institutions are in place to manage their arrival. Establishing this back office support will take time and issues including privacy and vehicle autonomy will have to be tackled in the next decade.

    This GPS can start the transition to a new transport paradigm or it can reproduce past approaches. The promise of transport solutions that are better on the environment, better for people and places and better for business suggests the sooner we in New Zealand look to the future, the better it will be for everyone, Selwood says.

  • 22 Jan 2016 11:04 AM | Anonymous

    Media Statement 
    14 May 2014

    The Public Sector Rebuild Programme of Work released today is a major step forward in Canterbury, says Stephen Selwood of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.

    The Programme of work sets out estimated project costs, timing, sequencing and responsibilities across not just CERA and the city council, but all large public sector service providers in the region.

    It displays graphically and concisely the quantum of investment needed in the region and will give a big lift to industry and property owners unclear until now about the forward work pipeline.

    The Programme shows public construction work building steadily over the next year, to peak around $500m per quarter in late 2015. The fairly rapid decline in activity from late 2016 may be alleviated by deferral of some projects, especially if Christchurch City is forced to moderate some of its earlier aspirations, but sends a clear signal to the market about how they need to manage resources.

    With $7-8 billion of projects identified above and beyond the SCIRT infrastructure rebuild, the scale of just the public sectors commitment to the recovery will reignite some of the interest lost over recent months across New Zealand and internationally. Prior to todays release, poor transparency and unclear public prioritisation have inflated risk profiles beyond perceived return potential resulting in a less positive market response.

    Critical now will be confirming funding, particularly for Christchurch City Councils share, and identifying procurement options.

    Capital requirements across the region are beyond anything seen outside of Auckland, and will have to compete with our biggest and fastest growing region for limited domestic resources.

    Large investors essential to sustaining progress over the long term need clear indication of financial opportunities and timing, something that will be keenly awaited.

    If the Council is unable to fully fund its share of the rebuild, opportunities for private capital investment in anchor projects and / or reallocation of public capital through asset sales should be carefully considered as an alternative.

    "Swapping one asset for another may enable better use of limited public resources," Selwood says.

    The link to the programme is available here: http://cera.govt.nz/recovery-strategy/leadership-and-integration/public-sector-rebuild


  • 22 Jan 2016 11:03 AM | Anonymous

    Hon Gerry Brownlee, Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, released a media statement today:

    "Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says feedback provided to the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development (NZCID) by stakeholders in Christchurchs rebuild will help inform the governments ongoing work programme".

    To read the full release: http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/nzcid-report-useful-guide-recovery-work


  • 22 Jan 2016 11:02 AM | Anonymous
    Reports show need for improved water service delivery by councils


    Media Statement 

    14 April 2014

    The recent release of the Ministry of Healths Annual Report on Drinking Water Quality and a stormwater report commissioned by the Auckland Council provide two further reminders of the need for better scrutiny and accountability in meeting drinking water, wastewater and stormwater standards in New Zealand, says CEO of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development Stephen Selwood.

    While freshwater issues have succeeded in penetrating the public debate, leading to a number of positive initiatives including the Land and Water Forum and the Land Air Water Aotearoa monitoring website, these reports highlight immediate issues of urban water service quality and accountability which are not receiving the attention they deserve.

    Pleasingly, Local Government New Zealand is leading a project to create a nationwide data framework for water infrastructure which seeks to share best practice, reduce costs and adopt innovative practices in water service delivery. This work needs to be completed with urgency, but ultimately requires a national discussion and Government buy-in to overcome the size of the challenge.

    Consistent with the previous study in 2011/12, the Ministry of Healths latest report reveals, once again, quite serious problems with drinking water in areas serviced by smaller providers. Just 22 per cent of residents living in small water zones of 101-500 people and 37.8 per cent of those in minor zones of 501-5000 people received drinking water that met all national standards.

    That performance can be compared to large zone populations above 10,000, where drinking water met standards for 86.7 per cent of residents.

    "The New Zealand Herald today reported that stormwater performance may in some cases be even worse. Around $10 billion is required to fix Aucklands stormwater system over the next 50 years. In the meantime, runoff from homes, roads and gardens will continue to pollute many popular swimming, food collection and coastal activity areas.

    Both reports provide revealing insights into the reasons why and how New Zealands urban water sector is the worst performing infrastructure category identified in the National Infrastructure Plan 2011.

    But they also suggest potential benefits of scale and specialisation in the provision of water services.

    Aucklands water supply and wastewater services are delivered under a single, vertically integrated provider able to leverage economies of scale to improve strategic capacity, focus and implementation.

    Watercare is, however, unique in the New Zealand context, being empowered through legislation, resourced through metered water charges and directly accountable to deliver water supply and wastewater services.

    As a result, Auckland performs strongly across indices such as water supply. But in a related service activity such as stormwater, where responsibility and accountability is diffused within the council structure and where resourcing is an annual competition for limited funds with transport, parks and other activities, performance is much less exemplary.

    Whether or not stormwater can and should become a function of a dedicated three waters agency like Watercare is unclear, due to the unpriceable nature of stormwater provision. What is demonstrable is that specialised agencies delivering water services at scale are generally more effective than distributed models with complex governance arrangements.

    Such was the finding of the Government-appointed Local Government Infrastructure Efficiency Expert Advisory Group anda 2012 report by PWC and GHD commissioned by NZCID and Water NZ.

    Its positive to see reporting now catching up with performance, but if New Zealand is to really lift its game in the water service sector, a closer look at structures and resourcing models will be required, says Selwood.

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