Infrastructure new Zealand MEDIA & RELEASES

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

  • 22 Jan 2016 11:50 AM | Anonymous

    Media Statement 
    10 March 2015

    Completing the Waikato Expressway including starting the Hamilton and Huntly bypasses and Longswamp section this year will realise important productivity and safety benefits for New Zealand, but begs the question why we dont accelerate more transport investment through debt funding major capital projects, says Stephen Selwood, Chief Executive of the NZ Council for Infrastructure Development.

    This is one of the busiest sections of State Highway 1 linking the Auckland, Hamilton and Bay of Plenty regions. The Upper North Island has shown rapid growth over the last three decades and will comprise over 60 percent of the nations population and economic growth the future, yet it will have taken us almost three decades to complete the expressway which was first started in 1992.

    Completion of the four lane expressway corridor will reduce travel times between Auckland and Tirau by up to 35 minutes; significantly reduce the number of fatal and serious injury crashes on one of the busiest stretches of the state highway network; increase the highway's capacity and passing opportunities; reduce traffic impacts and congestion within smaller communities like Huntly, Ngaruawahia and Cambridge; reduce fuel costs and contribute to economic growth.

    Assuming a relatively high 6% discount rate, the benefit cost ratio (BCR) for the full corridor is 2.4 with economic benefits of $5 billion dollars exceeding costs of around $2 billion.

    The completion of the strategic network will enable new commercial and industrial development adjacent to the highway including the recently consented Ruakura inland port at Hamilton.

    All of these benefits could have been delivered much sooner if the expressway had been debt funded rather than relying on drip feeding capital investment on a pay as you go basis.

    "This is the model that is being used to deliver Transmission Gully and is under consideration for the Puhoi to Warkworth Expressway to Northland.

    It doesnt make sense to defer economically beneficial projects like the Waikato Expressway for want of capital, especially when investment in large projects forces a reduction in essential renewals and maintenance programmes, as is currently the case. It would make sense to debt fund more major capital projects and toll the roads to enable debt to repaid.

    At a discount rate of 6%, any project with a BCR exceeding one is economically viable. But with a BCR exceeding two, the costs of delay in completion of projects like the Waikato Expressway vastly exceed the costs to borrow and toll.

    While it is good to see this important strategic route finally proceed, it would make sense to enable debt funding of other transport projects, particularly those with strong economic development opportunities. This would free up the National Land Transport Fund for much needed maintenance and renewals work across the country and enable faster economic growth in the regions, Selwood says.

  • 22 Jan 2016 11:49 AM | Anonymous

    Media Statement 
    26 February 2015

    "Reorganising local governance across the Wellington region will improve democratic decision making by giving the new Greater Wellington Council and Local Boards the tools to engage with residents and deliver on their expectations for infrastructure, community and regulatory services," says the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development in its submission to the Local Government Commission.

    "The capacity of a unified local authority to plan strategically for the region as a whole, prioritise investment in transport and water according to greatest need and resource that investment vastly exceeds the ability of fragmented smaller councils to deliver local services.

    "As local government representative body LGNZ points out in its recent funding report, Specialised regional organisations for land transport and the three waters would allow these infrastructure assets to be managed as a network. Costs and benefits would be spread across the network, and trade-offs could be made based on the best choices for the network as a whole, rather than being separated by political boundaries.

    "Small councils acting independent of their wider geographical context are not well positioned to realise regional opportunities and lack the scale to implement.

    "Shared services and regional collaboration can deliver improvements, but a single council for Wellington stands to deliver more efficient and effective infrastructure, regulatory and community services to its residents and businesses.

    "Importantly, it also provides the opportunity to strengthen local representation through effective Local Boards.

    "Under the Local Government Commissions proposal, council expertise across regional activities including economic development, transport, water, planning, regulation, funding and environmental management can be consolidated, leaving elected officials to do what they do best engage their communities, understand their concerns and feed this in to regional decision making.

    "The Commission, through its final decision should consider increasing the number of local boards to further facilitate direct public participation in the overall decision making process.

    "It should also strengthen its position on Council Controlled Organisations, taking into consideration the benefits of separating technical and operational decisions from strategic.

    "Reorganising governance in Wellington provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to deliver the best of both worlds - strengthened regional planning and implementation and improved local democracy," Selwood says.

    For further comment:

    Stephen Selwood, CEO

  • 22 Jan 2016 11:16 AM | Anonymous

    Media Statement 
    30 January 2015

    The Prime Ministers announcement earlier this week that state housing would be significantly modernised is welcome news, but without private development expertise is not likely to achieve the Governments objectives, says Stephen Selwood CEO of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.

    Decades of underinvestment and politicised management of New Zealands state housing service has left an astonishing one-third of the $18.6 billion of state housing stock either in the wrong place or of the wrong configuration to meet need. Of the remaining two-thirds, an undisclosed number would not meet developing requirements for a rental Warrant of Fitness.

    It is extremely difficult to reach any other conclusion than that the traditional approach to managing the Governments housing portfolio and providing homes for people in need is not working.

    It is therefore encouraging to see the Government looking at different ways to provide better homes for better value.

    As outlined this week, the Government intends to boost the community housing sector by extending maximum housing subsidies to approved providers and, over the next year, selling between 1000 and 2000 state houses to the third housing sector to provide a social housing alternative to compliment the activities of Housing New Zealand. In addition, the Government will be considering how best it can redevelop larger holdings of Housing New Zealand property to deliver more affordable housing.

    These changes should see a stronger, more financially secure community housing sector emerge which can reinvest in new units. The localised and more hands on approach to tenancy management provided by organisations like the Salvation Army, iwi or other groups will not only see better stock delivered but an improvement in support given to tenants.

    The opportunity to add private sector capital, construction and development expertise will grow capacity to deliver social and affordable housing at a scale not seen before in New Zealand.

    Redeveloping Housing New Zealand stock will enable the Government to leverage land value to offset the cost of new homes. 
    Unfortunately, this policy which has huge potential to deliver new social and affordable housing, improve outcomes and achieve much better value for money for tax payers has not been well understood.

    In some areas like Tamaki in Auckland, existing Housing New Zealand stock is 50 or more years old and in immediate need of replacement. By aggregating the large sections allotted in the aftermath of the Second World War, three, four or five new units can be delivered on the same amount of land. The number of social houses can not only be retained but potentially even doubled with remaining units sold privately.

    This approach carries two benefits. One is financial. Income from the sale of private units can be used to fund more and better social housing.

    The second is that by integrating social and private housing units the stigma of state housing can be dispelled. Bundling wrap around social support services into new development can target truancy and anti-social behaviour at the community level to help foster liveable, healthy communities.

    But these opportunities will only be realised when the old privatisation dogma is rejected and when the Government, community housing associations and private sector capital, construction and development markets work together in partnership.

    These kinds of innovative relationships provide a real opportunity to tackle the social and affordable housing challenge and should be welcomed, Selwood says.

  • 22 Jan 2016 11:15 AM | Anonymous

    Media Statement 
    30 January 2015

    The Prime Ministers announcement earlier this week that state housing would be significantly modernised is welcome news, but without private development expertise is not likely to achieve the Governments objectives, says Stephen Selwood CEO of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.

    Decades of underinvestment and politicised management of New Zealands state housing service has left an astonishing one-third of the $18.6 billion of state housing stock either in the wrong place or of the wrong configuration to meet need. Of the remaining two-thirds, an undisclosed number would not meet developing requirements for a rental Warrant of Fitness.

    It is extremely difficult to reach any other conclusion than that the traditional approach to managing the Governments housing portfolio and providing homes for people in need is not working.

    It is therefore encouraging to see the Government looking at different ways to provide better homes for better value.

    As outlined this week, the Government intends to boost the community housing sector by extending maximum housing subsidies to approved providers and, over the next year, selling between 1000 and 2000 state houses to the third housing sector to provide a social housing alternative to compliment the activities of Housing New Zealand. In addition, the Government will be considering how best it can redevelop larger holdings of Housing New Zealand property to deliver more affordable housing.

    These changes should see a stronger, more financially secure community housing sector emerge which can reinvest in new units. The localised and more hands on approach to tenancy management provided by organisations like the Salvation Army, iwi or other groups will not only see better stock delivered but an improvement in support given to tenants.

    The opportunity to add private sector capital, construction and development expertise will grow capacity to deliver social and affordable housing at a scale not seen before in New Zealand.

    Redeveloping Housing New Zealand stock will enable the Government to leverage land value to offset the cost of new homes. 
    Unfortunately, this policy which has huge potential to deliver new social and affordable housing, improve outcomes and achieve much better value for money for tax payers has not been well understood.

    In some areas like Tamaki in Auckland, existing Housing New Zealand stock is 50 or more years old and in immediate need of replacement. By aggregating the large sections allotted in the aftermath of the Second World War, three, four or five new units can be delivered on the same amount of land. The number of social houses can not only be retained but potentially even doubled with remaining units sold privately.

    This approach carries two benefits. One is financial. Income from the sale of private units can be used to fund more and better social housing.

    The second is that by integrating social and private housing units the stigma of state housing can be dispelled. Bundling wrap around social support services into new development can target truancy and anti-social behaviour at the community level to help foster liveable, healthy communities.

    But these opportunities will only be realised when the old privatisation dogma is rejected and when the Government, community housing associations and private sector capital, construction and development markets work together in partnership.

    These kinds of innovative relationships provide a real opportunity to tackle the social and affordable housing challenge and should be welcomed, Selwood says.

  • 22 Jan 2016 11:14 AM | Anonymous

    Media Release
    4 December 2014

    The Local Government Commissions decision to recommend a unified Wellington region supported by local boards will strengthen the capitals decision making, improve delivery of essential services and attract central government and private sector investment to the region, says Stephen Selwood of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development. 

    The Commissions proposal gives Wellington the tools to compete. It provides the opportunity to lift vision beyond current parochial boundaries and put in place a structure to support regional growth and development. Partnership between urban centres and the rural hinterland, as well as between the region, central government and business will all be fostered. 

    The Greater Wellington Council will have one Mayor elected at large across all of the new Wellington region, supported by 21 councillors and 60 local board representatives. It will oversee assets of $13 billion, making it the second largest investor in the region, and empowering it with the resources to implement regional strategic direction. 

    And the Commissions proposal does this without compromising local decision making. The Commissions eight local boards will give communities of interest strong representation within the Greater Wellington Council. Whether or not the local board boundaries provide the best representation of local communities and whether they will have sufficient delegated authority and funding will be topics for further debate. 

    The Commission has put forward an excellent proposal. Residents of the Wellington region should be excited at the potential for the future under this proposal for regional government, Selwood says.

  • 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.

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