Infrastructure new Zealand MEDIA & RELEASES

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

  • 22 Jan 2016 12:02 PM | Anonymous

    Media Statement 
    16 September 2015

    It is disappointing but not surprising that local residents turned down a proposal to restructure Hawkes Bay governance when the debate around amalgamation pitched administrative cost savings against loss of community identity and history, says Stephen Selwood CEO of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.

    Whilst operational savings and limiting rates increases are always worthwhile objectives, the real opportunity from strengthened governance is lifting the economic performance of the regions more jobs, sustainable development and greater prosperity.

    By empowering a regional mayor and council to interface directly with central government and business, champion the region, set a single strategic direction and implement that direction with a consolidated asset base and specialised labour force, regions can attract back growth and regenerate their communities.

    This message was lost in the debate because local government purpose, incentives, funding, investment and legal frameworks are misaligned.

    Minister Bennett has asked councils to rededicate themselves to jobs and sustained growth, but the Local Government Act makes no such provision. Under the Act, Councils are there to enable democratic local decision making and deliver infrastructure, regulate and provide community services.

    The principal local government laws the Resource Management Act, the Local Government Act and the Land Transport Management Act require them to conform to a maze of statutory processes while they face intense political scrutiny to keep rates increases to a minimum. Consequently local government attention is much less focussed on delivering strong local economies and building vibrant communities but more on administration, managing negative effects, balancing the budget, and dealing with the costs rather than the opportunities of growth.

    Attempts to change governance structures without incentivising councils to go for growth, giving them the funding tools to implement direction and aligning planning, regulatory and wider implementation laws will not work.

    Whats needed is a first principles evaluation of the role of local government, of local government structures and funding and of the legal framework in which they operate.

    Unless the whole local government system is improved, regions will continue to struggle with population aging and decline, stagnant growth, poor economic performance and loss of jobs and opportunities to the big cities.

    We need a strong partnership between central and local government, business, iwi and our communities if we want our regions to grow, but strong partnerships require aligned governance and leadership.

    Supporting regions with appropriate funding tools and incentives, effective planning and regulatory frameworks and good governance will not only set the priorities right for local communities, it will provide residents and voters with the confidence that change will lead to a better outcome, Selwood says.



  • 22 Jan 2016 12:01 PM | Anonymous

    Government-Council Partnership for Christchurch positive but complexity of structure remains significant risk

    Media Statement 
    25 September 2015 

    Its encouraging to see the Government and Christchurch City Council forming Regenerate Christchurch as a joint partnership to oversee the future of the Christchurch rebuild. But the creation of three public agencies to deliver urban redevelopment risks creating implementation challenges, says NZ Council for Infrastructure Development head Stephen Selwood. 

    The establishment of an independent board to oversee a new jointly owned Regenerate Christchurch entity will add expertise to the decision making process and will help depoliticise development decisions. 

    This is welcome. However, as principally a planning, engagement and monitoring agency, Regenerate Christchurch will be one step removed from delivering the outcomes everyone in Canterbury wants to see.

    Actual delivery will be vested in two other agencies a Crown owned company reporting to the Minister and Development Christchurch Limited which will be governed by an independent board appointed by the Council. 

    Key issues that will need to be reconciled across all three agencies includesourcing governance and leadership expertise, sequencing of construction activity, cash-flow management, interfacing with users and investors and general commercial engagement, procurement and contracting.

    Getting the very best talent in place is a permanent challenge for any major redevelopment undertaking. Attracting the very best expertise across three organisations is going to be difficult. 

    A single, integrated delivery agency with requiring authority status and reporting directly to a joint Government and Council appointed board would have been simpler. 

    We will have to wait to see how responsibilities and accountability will be apportioned among the three agencies. It will be important to understand how the Board of Regenerate Christchurch reporting to the Minister and the Council will hold CrownCo and Development Christchurch Limited to account when they also individually report to the same Minister and Council. 

    Funding and financing responsibilities are also going to have to be well considered. If delivery agencies cannot operate flexibly to take advantage of property and other dynamic opportunities as they arise and instead are beholden to slow, process-driven public decision making practices, the tax payer is going to pick up a bigger share of the tab in the long run. 

    Theres a fantastic opportunity to truly deliver something unique in Christchurch that all New Zealanders can be proud of, but its unclear whether that outcome requires such a complex governance model. Given a decision has been made to run with three agencies, the focus needs to be on installing the right leadership, responsibilities and accountabilities to bring all components together, Selwood says.


  • 22 Jan 2016 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Media Statement 
    August 26, 2015

    New Zealand has an opportunity to significantly improve urban development according to leaders across the infrastructure sector.

    Stephen Selwood, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development (NZCID), says we need to lift our vision to be internationally competitive in big city development projects.

    We surveyed key decision makers including senior central and local government officials and infrastructure construction, design, finance, professional advisors and service leaders across all sectors at the recent NZCID Building Nations symposium in Christchurch.

    Most delegates (49 percent) consider that New Zealand is improving but remains well behind global best practice. Just six percent think New Zealand is at the leading edge while 29 percent feel we are in catch-up mode and 16 percent say we are still at the start line.

    Making better use of private capital and integrating transport solutions and urban development are areas of greatest opportunity.

    The decision to set up a specialist urban development agency in Auckland, Development Auckland, is seen as a very positive step.

    Getting governance right for the $40 billion Canterbury Rebuild is also seen as being key to success. Almost half (49 percent) are fairly confident that governance arrangements to oversee the next phase of the Canterbury Rebuild will work and 12 percent are very confident. But importantly, 43 percent are not confident that governance arrangements will work. Key concerns centre on proposals for two development agencies one run by the Christchurch City Council and another run by central government. Its really hard to integrate development and synchronise decision making and capital programmes when multiple agencies are involved, each with separate budgets to manage.

    Seamless delivery necessary for Christchurch CBD

    It is critical that the Christchurch central business district (CBD) redevelopment is completed seamlessly across the Crown and council's respective asset holdings.

    We favour one fully capitalised urban development agency for Christchurch, jointly owned by central Government and the Christchurch City Council, which can then recruit the very best capability to deliver the next phase of the rebuild. The agency will need to be totally attuned to market needs, have the strongest possible procurement capability and have capacity to effectively manage capital project delivery and whole of life costs of public assets.

    An NZCID survey of procurement across principal public agencies rates overall performance as being average. The New Zealand Transport Agency rated highest overall at four out of five. Having a forward works pipeline, a clear focus on the end goal, maximising value for money over least cost tenders, and adopting standard contracts and evaluation methods were seen as the key areas for improvement in procurement across the industry.

    Selwood says that feedback on the national infrastructure plan released at the symposium showed a need for central Government and local council growth and investment strategies for Auckland, Christchurch and the regions.

    Recycling of assets needed for development

    There is significant opportunity to use private capital to accelerate infrastructure delivery and urban development in New Zealand including recycling of assets sale or partial sale of existing assets to build new assets to support growth and development.

    Delegates are keen to see positive action on planning law changes beyond the Resource Management Act, the Local Government Act and the Land Transport Management Act, Selwood says.

    Consistent direction on long term infrastructure strategy is seen as critical. Two thirds of leaders at the Building Nations symposium saw political risk the risk that elected leaders will change infrastructure strategy and policies as being a significant risk adversely affecting infrastructure investment and decision making.

  • 22 Jan 2016 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Media Statement 
    2 July 2015

    The Prime Ministers announcement that an urban development-type agency will be established to oversee the Christchurch central city rebuild is positive, but a jointly owned Crown and Council agency will be key to success and will better facilitate transition to local ownership, says Stephen Selwood of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.

    It is critical that the CBD redevelopment is completed with urgency and delivered seamlessly across the Crown and Councils respective asset holdings.

    It is also crucial that the development agency is totally attuned to market needs, has the strongest possible procurement capability and can effectively manage capital project delivery and whole of life costs of public assets.

    We are pleased to see decisions have not yet been made on the form of governance between the Crown and Council for a redevelopment authority, as agreement across the two parties is critical to the long term success of the initiative.

    A single Crown-owned agency that is solely tasked with delivering Crown projects risks excessive focus on minimising upfront capital costs to the Crown while transferring risk for whole of life operational costs to the Council without adequate Council input and oversight in the initial project delivery.

    Separate Crown and Council development agencies would be even less desirable.They would compete to recruit and retain the highest calibre expertise, would face difficulties in sequencing projects to market and would risk duplication of resources.

    A jointly owned development agency governed by an independent professional board therefore seems a logical step. This would require the Crown and Christchurch City Council to agree the outcomes to meet tax and ratepayer expectations, set the budget and empower the development agency to get on with the job.

    Separating the operational aspects of the rebuild from political processes will be essential given the proposed five year time horizon of legislation. Christchurch residents could potentially see one change of Government and two changes of council within that time.

    A further critical issue will be resourcing the agency sufficiently to avoid regular cap in hand trips back to authorities. Funding and revenue allocations must be identified and agreed as part of the establishment of Regeneration Christchurch.

    "A jointly owned independent delivery agency is typical across equivalently sized redevelopment initiatives and is consistent with global best practice, Selwood says.


  • 22 Jan 2016 11:59 AM | Anonymous

    Media Statement 
    30 June 2015

    A no surprises National Land Transport Programme maintains the Governments momentum in the transport sector for the next three years, but its time to set out a clear long term investment strategy for the state highway system to meet future inter-regional and intra-regional travel demand, says Stephen Selwood of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.

    Three years for any major state highway project is a blink of an eye. The East-West Connection in Auckland was identified as a regional priority over three years ago, but a preferred option has only just been released for public feedback. It will be another three years before the first spade hits the ground on the main component.

    Currently we have little visibility of what pressures the state highway system should expect beyond three years, where and what the pipeline is to address emerging demand.

    The problem is now acute in Auckland where all available evidence demonstrates future state highway planning is inadequate to meet growth.

    Multi-billion dollar investment in the Western Ring Route and elsewhere across the Auckland network gets the region to where it should have been some time last decade. It wont meet the needs of another Wellington and another Christchurch moving into Auckland over the next three decades.

    What is the plan for Aucklands motorway network beyond Waterview and the East-West Connection?

    The current picture is bleak with todays speeds and performance dropping significantly across the network and congestion moving into the inter-peak.

    Network performance is also challenged for those regions and territories not supported by the Roads of National Significance programme.

    How is the state highway programme going to promote growth and productivity in New Zealands agricultural engine room and what is the sequence of priorities?

    Its time NZTA came up with a long term national state highway strategy that meets the needs of regions across New Zealand and supports economic and population growth of another one million people in Auckland," Selwood says.

  • 22 Jan 2016 11:58 AM | Anonymous

    Scale, vision and an overhaul of planning legislation needed to address housing problem 

    Media Statement 
    19 June 2015

    The Productivity Commissions comprehensive report into land for housing underlines the need for a major revision of New Zealands overall planning framework. In the meantime, Aucklands housing shortfall could be addressed with a new compact greenfield satellite city aligned to the rail network, funded off land value improvement and financed with private capital, says Stephen Selwood CEO of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.

    The Commissions report demonstrates just how imbedded the many challenges are which over two decades have seen New Zealands housing affordability plummet.

    The common thread tying together each of the major issues identified by the Commission regulation, infrastructure funding and delivery, spatial planning, public engagement and central and local government coordination is New Zealands dysfunctional planning and governance framework as set out in the Resource Management Act, Local Government Act and the Land Transport Management Act.

    The Acts were conceived separately and never designed to work together. As a result, transport decisions are made which inhibit urban development. Land use decisions are made which add to congestion. We have local government objectives which conflict with central government policies and central government directives which heap costs onto financially constrained local bodies.

    The three Acts the RMA, LGA and LTMA must be subject to a first principles review with the objective of harmonising planning and decision making across New Zealands two levels of government.

    Getting the incentives and objectives across government right will help councils and the Crown align their objectives, ensuring above all that sufficient land is available and ready for development.

    Thats going to take some time, which is why the Commissions call for an urban development agency is so important.

    As we design more effective governance, planning and legal frameworks to meet the needs of future generations at the national level, an urban redevelopment agency can seek out a nearer term response for the urgent housing need in Auckland.

    A public agency that is market focused and geared to engage private capital, innovation and expertise is critical to bridging the gap between public resource management activities and property market needs.

    Acting on behalf of both the Crown and Auckland Council, an urban development agency must be empowered to, at the very least, aggregate land to enable development at scale.

    The agency could engage the development community to target a major new city on greenfield land, proximate to rail where land value appreciation can be leveraged.

    A very successful initiative like this is underway in Springfield, just outside Brisbane.

    There, a city the size of Pukekohe but with a population equivalent to Hamilton is under construction. Because it has been masterplanned to accommodate that level of density, rather than retrofitted around an existing incompatible urban form, much better transport, environment and social outcomes are being targeted.

    Committing to tens of thousands of new homes over the next two or three decades, built to modern tastes and consistent with expectations for quality public transport, urban living and sustainable design, and urban development agency working in partnership with major private developers can deliver the types of outcomes both the Government and Auckland Council, as well as residents, demand, Selwood says.


  • 22 Jan 2016 11:57 AM | Anonymous

    Media Release 
    10 June 2015

    The Local Government Commissions announcement that it would move to strengthen local government in the Hawkes Bay at the same time as backing down on recommendations for Wellington and Northland demonstrates the need for a first principles rethink of what local government does, why and how, something a Royal Commission is best placed to investigate and which must include stalled discussions on the role of the Resource Management Act and other planning laws, says Stephen Selwood CEO of the NZ Council for Infrastructure Development.

    The Commissions decisions are set to entrench different governance structures, roles and activities in different regions with net costs to New Zealand as a whole.

    The Local Government Commission was at risk of having its decisions reversed by local referenda driven by local politicians. Had the Commission been in a position to recommend strengthened governance for Wellington and Northland, New Zealand could have begun the transition to a consistent national and regional spatial planning and implementation framework supported by local boards at the grass roots level.

    This would be consistent with international best practice and would help align central and local government on major planning and investment decision making.

    It would also facilitate private activity and investment while enhancing community participation and decision making through local boards.

    It would have delivered a superior outcome for NZ Inc. Instead, much more narrow interests have been allowed to prevail.

    The result is an unfolding piecemeal governance scenario with large regional councils like Auckland providing clear direction and a single voice on major issues, whilst small councils like Kaipara next door struggle to sustain the expertise necessary to provide modern public services.

    A Royal Commission is now required into local government in New Zealand.

    Only a Royal Commission can access the resources and maintains the mana necessary to complete a full first principles review of local government across New Zealand.

    Such a review would align well with another stalled reform process, that of the Resource Management Act 1991.

    Currently, we have councils making plans under the Local Government Act, large aspects of which are actually implemented under the RMA and transport Act. We have rules under the RMA which impede the plans of councils developed under the LGA and proposals under the RMA which are not funded because council spending falls under the jurisdiction of the LGA.

    The whole thing is a complete mess.

    Until we achieve alignment over what it is we want local government to deliver and how, it will be very difficult for the Local Government Commission to make sound recommendations which mobilise the support of communities.

    That process cannot happen without the LGA, RMA and Land Transport Management Act being part of the same discussion, Selwood says.

  • 22 Jan 2016 11:56 AM | Anonymous

    Leveraging private capital and design innovation on Puhoi-Warkworth will make the budget go further

    Media Statement 
    27 May 2015

    A safer, more reliable and resilient road connecting Northland to the world is a step closer following the Minister of Transports announcement today that the Puhoi to Warkworth Road of National Significance will proceed as a public private partnership if the market can provide as good value for money as Transmission Gully, says Stephen Selwood CEO of the NZ Council for Infrastructure Development.

    For a privately financed bid to succeed, the Transport Agency is going to have to be sure the design and construction of this vital road connection delivers a superior level of service to what can be achieved under a more conventional model it will have to be safer, stronger, faster and better.

    Thats what is being delivered through the countrys first transport PPP along Transmission Gully, a project that last weeks flooding shows cant come soon enough.

    The potential for a PPP to get better value for the tax payer is not limited to the requirement that Puhoi-Warkworth be superior to a conventionally procured project.

    Financing major capital procurement through debt smoothes the funding pathway, promotes intergenerational equity and avoids boom-bust cycles in the construction sector which has been a significant handbrake on productivity in recent decades.

    Use of debt funding means there will be more capital available in the National Land Transport Fund in the near term to resource other transport priorities across the country.

    If Puhoi to Warkworth was totally funded out of pay-go annual revenue streams, then this priority billion dollar project would not only starve regions across the country of much needed transport investment in the medium term, it would take at least two years longer to deliver forgoing substantial economic growth opportunities in Northland in the meantime.

    There has been strong market interest both locally and globally in this project following the success of Transmission Gully. Robust competition will help drive the efficiencies needed to generate whole of life cost savings which in turn are required to demonstrate better value for taxpayer money.

    Critics of PPPs incorrectly compare the whole of life cost of PPPs to conventional costs to build an asset. This ignores long term maintenance and repair charges and mistakenly attributes the value of a dollar today to a dollar twenty years from now.

    The process transport authorities will now undertake will be to challenge the PPP market to deliver a 30 year road solution at better value than 30 years of conventional contracts.

    Without some combination of improved service delivery and cost savings, a PPP will not proceed and thats exactly the right process, Selwood says.


  • 22 Jan 2016 11:55 AM | Anonymous

    Media Statement 
    20 May 2015

    Local governments representative body LGNZ should be commended for taking proactive steps to lift the performance of the sector, following the release of concerning national survey results which rated councils just 3 out of 10 for overall performance, says Stephen Selwood CEO of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.

    The 2014 Colmar Brunton survey of 2400 residents and 600 businesses found that a strong majority of New Zealanders believe that local government is important, but also revealed a poor reputation for local government overall. Residents and businesses rated councils just 3.2 out of 10 for communication and interaction, 2.8 out of 10 for performance and 2.6 out of 10 for leadership.

    The results should serve as a wakeup call to our 78 councils.

    All councils are struggling to balance service costs with expectation pressures, a tension which is going to increase as growth pressures require the need for investment in some areas while demographic change limits capacity to pay for core services in others.

    This survey suggests councils need to radically rethink the way they deliver services, engage with residents and lead their communities forward.

    It is therefore encouraging to see local governments peak body outlining a priority programme to improve public understanding of local governments critical role and performance of the sector.

    NZCID supports the six priorities proposed:

    1. governance, leadership and strategy; 
    2. financial decision-making and transparency; 
    3. asset management and infrastructure; 
    4. engaging with business; 
    5. communicating and engaging with public; and 
    6. building a stronger relationship with central government.

    However, the one aspect LGNZ has not identified is whether the current size and number of councils is appropriate to address the issues and future challenges.

    Local government has a potentially significant role to play in leading the social, economic and environmental development of our regions, but in order to perform this role adequately it requires fit for purpose structures, resourcing capability and the confidence of its constituents.

    The results of this survey demonstrate the need for councils to dramatically up their game and suggest a need for transformational change to meet current and future challenges across the local government sector, Selwood says.

  • 22 Jan 2016 11:54 AM | Anonymous

    Media Release
    12 May 2015

    The Hamilton City and Waipa and Waikato district councils should be commended for looking at innovative ways to improve services to ratepayers at lower costs, says Stephen Selwood of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development. 

    The three councils agreed to co-fund the independent study into different wastewater, water supply and stormwater management options in 2014. 

    The Cranleigh authored report released yesterday identifies close to half a billion dollars of savings over the next thirty years and $107 million over the next decade, if the three councils were to transfer water assets and management to a council controlled organisation. 

    These three councils are planning to spend $764 million on water services over the next ten years, so a saving of $107 million or 14 per cent is very significant. 

    Savings would come on top of better water services for residents. The report found that the CCO model would contribute to: 

    - a stronger and much more resilient waters network across the sub-region; 
    - improved compliance with environmental and drinking water standards; 
    - a greater likelihood of attracting and retaining key waters staff; 
    - the creation of a regional water centre of excellence; and 
    - the ability to better harness and maximise the economic potential of the region. 

    The findings are consistent with experience elsewhere, including in Scotland, Tasmania and Auckland. 

    In Scotland, a publicly owned special purpose water company has achieved 40 per cent savings in operating costs whilst dramatically increasing capital investment in water infrastructure to provide better services to users. 

    Closer to home, Watercare has realised $104 million in savings per annum following its consolidation of water services in Auckland, at the same time as scale has enabled upgrades to Rodney and Franklins infrastructure that was not affordable under the former council structure. 

    Its encouraging to see Waikato councils front-footing emerging challenges and seeking out new opportunities, Selwood says.

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