Infrastructure new Zealand MEDIA & RELEASES

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

  • 29 Aug 2019 5:10 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “Infrastructure New Zealand is proud to see infrastructure organisations leading the way in workplace diversity, but urges organisations across the sector to continue pushing for positive outcomes,” says Paul Blair, CEO of Infrastructure NZ.

    The awards, run by Diversity Works New Zealand, are in their 22nd year and celebrate best practice in workplace diversity and inclusion. Click the names of each member for a link to a video summarising their work.

    Infrastructure NZ member Vector took home the Supreme Award at last night’s 2019 Diversity Awards NZ™, for their work in driving a diverse and inclusive culture throughout their organisation.

    Vector also won the Empowerment Award, in recognition for their work to have their workforce match the gender diversity of the NZ population, and for their efforts to develop women leaders across the organisation. The electricity distribution business also won the Diversability Award for their work in supporting equitable hiring and support for employees with disabilities.

    Fellow Infrastructure NZ members Air New Zealand won Cultural Celebration award for training their staff about the culture behind their well-known brand.

    “It’s wonderful to see infrastructure businesses leading the way when it comes to driving diversity in their workforce and building a culture of inclusion,” says Blair.

    “Diversity and inclusion aren’t just about being more marketable or earning social license to operate. A diverse workforce has more and better ideas and is making full use of New Zealand’s diverse labour force.

    “When organisations drop the ball on diversity, they are leaving money on the table. If there’s one sector that should be striving for every advantage and opportunity, it should be the infrastructure sector in New Zealand.

    “Ultimately, it’s just the right thing to do.

    “Organisations ought to represent the customers they serve, being aware of the unique advantages and challenges that different users have,” says Blair.

    Infrastructure NZ is delighted to acknowledge the growing number of member organisations nominated as finalists for the 2019 Diversity Awards NZ™, demonstrating the increasing importance the infrastructure sector is placing on diversity and inclusion to help build a future-focused industry.

    This year, Infrastructure NZ members Downer NZ and HSBC NZ were finalists in the Cultural Celebration Category, where they were commended for their responses to cultural and ethnic engagement in the workplace;

    Spark was a finalist in the Emerging Diversity and Inclusion Category which honours a diversity and inclusion initiative that is less than two years old;

    Kensington Swan was a finalist in the Empowerment Category which celebrates innovative responses to empowering women in the workplace;

    GHD was a finalist in the Positive Inclusion Category, for their innovative response to inclusivity of the LGBTQI community in the workforce;

    Downer NZ and GHD were finalists in the Tomorrow’s Workforce Category, which celebrates innovative responses to a changing workforce demographic

    Glen Cornelius from Harrison Grierson and Shane Morgan from Watercare Services were finalists in the Walk the Talk Category, which celebrates leaders who exemplify excellence in promoting and managing a diverse workforce.

    Infrastructure NZ also acknowledges the success of industry association partners Engineering NZ, who were finalists for the Emerging Diversity and Inclusion Category for the transformational work they are leading across the industry.

    As a member of Diversity Works New Zealand, Infrastructure NZ is a strong advocate for member organisations developing diverse and inclusive workplaces by publicising clear targets and metrics on diversity, prioritising action and reporting externally to stakeholders.

    “One of the five requirements for world class infrastructure is the skill base of our industry. Future proofing our industry through diversity, inclusion, and hearing all the voices of our best and brightest minds is critical,” notes Blair.

    “These awards recognise some strong and positive efforts by the infrastructure industry, but there is still more to be done.

    “We look forward to seeing more infrastructure organisations succeeding in this space next year and in the years to come.”

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Paul Blair on 021 902 436


  • 22 Aug 2019 3:00 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “The infrastructure sector sees a major role for the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission/Te Waihanga in lifting the nation’s sagging infrastructure performance,” says Paul Blair, incoming CEO of Infrastructure NZ.

    “Nearly three quarters of industry respondents to our 2019 Infrastructure Procurement Survey identified the need for the Commission to support government agencies in the procurement and delivery of their major infrastructure projects.

    “The procurement performance in New Zealand has fallen in the last two years, both in the public and private sector.”

    “Infrastructure New Zealand, Civil Contractors and Construction Strategy Group’s 2018 ‘Creating Value Through Procurement’ report showed that worlds best practise procurement could save 5-15% of project value and improve the health of the wider industry. Given New Zealand’s $129 billion, 10-year infrastructure pipeline, it is obvious to us that a fully staffed, independent, well-funded Infrastructure Commission can create billions of dollars of potential value which can be equitably shared into more infrastructure projects, more sustainable margins for contractors, fairer allocation of risk, certainty of employment and investment in skills and industry capacity.” says Blair.

    Peter Silcock, CEO of Civil Contractors NZ, who supported the survey, observes that “the industry has suffered from a series of stop-and-go cycles. Companies have had to rapidly import and invest in talent and resources in new sectors, only to see that investment squandered as project priorities change.”

    Blair notes that, “on top of industry-wide effects, such as boom-bust cycles, there have also been organisation-specific declines that had the effect of pulling down overall procurement performance in the two years since our last survey.

    “However, the decline in performance may also be due to the lack of consistency in the infrastructure and construction industries.

    “Reinforcing this concern, 80 per cent of respondents reiterated the need for the Commission to publish a pipeline of major infrastructure projects to provide the confidence and assurance that industry needs to invest in long-term talent and resources,” says Blair.

    “The ability to plan long-term is essential to a healthy and successful construction industry. It leads to savings for governments, taxpayers, and users alike,” says David Kelly, Chief Executive of the Registered Master Builders Association, who also supported the survey.

    “Some organisations are strong examples of procurement performance,” Blair notes.

    “The four largest ports, Auckland, Lyttelton, Napier, and Tauranga, collectively outperformed the rest of the pack and stole the title of best performer from 2017’s leader, the New Zealand Transport Agency.

    “Our survey found that they excelled because they have a high level, outcomes-focused approach to projects and treat their suppliers and contractors as partners - strengths that often are lacking in lower performing procurement agencies.

    “The survey also asked public sector suppliers to evaluate how the private sector performs when it fulfils their contracts. Public sector respondents pointed to weaknesses in the smaller, less-experienced suppliers.

    “It seems that, similar to the public sector, size and experience is an advantage in procurement processes. There is an opportunity for the Commission to help smaller public and private sector organisations lift their procurement expertise.

    “The survey found many respondents wanted the Commission to have real power to make a difference for the sector.

    “The sector wants an Infrastructure Commission that can not only encourage change, but track and enforce it, if necessary.

    “I am encouraged that the Treasury’s Infrastructure Transactions Unit, which will merge into the Infrastructure Commission in October, has acknowledged many of the industry concerns in its August 2019 report, ‘An examination of the issues associated with the use of the NZS Conditions of Contract”. This report highlights the culture of mistrust between public and private sector, a skill gap in the public sector around construction, that the public sector does not understand the difference between lowest cost and value for money, and several issues relating to excessive risk transfer from public to private sector.

    “These industry reports create a clear blueprint for the Infrastructure Commission to execute change at pace to create a world class infrastructure platform for the benefit of all New Zealanders,” Blair says.

    The Infrastructure Procurement Survey was conducted by Infrastructure NZ in partnership with Civil Contractors NZ and the Registered Master Builders Association. It had over 160 responses from senior leaders in New Zealand’s engineering, construction and contracting, professional advisory, and public service sectors.

    The survey received over 450 individual ratings on 38 different public and private sector agencies that procure infrastructure projects in excess of $15 million.

    Click here to view the survey results, presented today at the Building Nations Symposium 2019.

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Paul Blair on 021 902 436


  • 22 Aug 2019 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    Last night Stephen Selwood, founding CEO of Infrastructure New Zealand, was recognised for his outstanding service to the infrastructure sector at the 14th annual Building Nations Symposium in Rotorua.

    The recognition, sponsored by Macquarie, was given to Stephen at the event’s gala dinner last night, in front of hundreds of leaders from the infrastructure community.

    “Stephen has without a doubt had a tremendous positive influence on the infrastructure sector,” says Andrew Stevens, Chair of Infrastructure NZ.

    “He used his passion for good policy-making and his talent for communicating ideas to successfully drive some of the most important changes in New Zealand’s infrastructure sector during his 14 years as CEO.

    “Stephen has been a thought leader, championing governance reform in Auckland, RMA and planning law reform, promoting alternative funding and financing models, and the creation of an independent government infrastructure body: the newly formed New Zealand Infrastructure Commission/Te Waihanga.

    “Stephen appreciates the valuable contribution that infrastructure plays in nation-building and has regularly advocated that the sector should be viewed as a non-partisan and essential feature of a competitive and dynamic country.

    “Stephen has led numerous overseas delegations to cities and nations across the globe. Learning from experts across Europe, North America, and Asia, he brought back the best of international experience and combined it with a uniquely NZ Inc. vision to drive policies adapted to New Zealand’s challenges and opportunities.

    “Stephen joined the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development, as Infrastructure NZ was then known, in 2005 and built it up into the respected and influential organisation it is today.

    “Prior to this, he was already influencing infrastructure policy through his 20 years of work at the Automobile Association.

    “Stephen has had a strong and positive impact on our industry, and has left an incredible legacy for our new CEO, Paul Blair, to take up and build upon.

    “We once again thank Stephen for his many years of service to Infrastructure New Zealand and to the entire sector,” Stevens says.

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Andrew Stevens on 027 245 7730

  • 21 Aug 2019 11:40 AM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    Infrastructure New Zealand released a new white paper today setting out how, by strengthening regional capability and incentivising local, regional and central government institutions to collaborate, we can tackle complex issues and improve outcomes for all New Zealanders.

    “Devolving transport, housing and other regionally specific services to an empowered and capable regional government would improve national outcomes by strengthening delivery and incentivising all of government to work towards shared objectives,” says outgoing Infrastructure NZ CEO Stephen Selwood.

    “Current outcomes for economic, social and environmental performance across New Zealand are poor relative to what might be expected from such a transparent and efficient public sector.

    “That’s because the institutions delivering these services are not incentivised by the funding system to implement outcomes, on one hand, and aren’t empowered to meet challenges on the other.

    “We must change the relationships between New Zealand’s governing institutions if we want to really tackle tough issues like the housing crisis and respond to climate change.

    “There must be much greater collaboration not just across central government, but between central, regional and local government. This will create a forum for iwi, communities and business to help shape New Zealand’s future wellbeing.

    “That’s very hard under New Zealand’s effects-based and adversarial RMA planning regime, our input-oriented State Sector Act and poorly funded Local Government and Land Transport Management Acts.

    “New legislation is required to separate planning and development from environmental management.

    “A new National Development Plan will set direction from central government. Enhanced regional governments will generate regional spatial plans which will integrate public services and translate investment into outcomes. Local councils will use existing land use planning powers to give effect to spatial plans.

    “But plans aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on if they cannot be implemented.

    “Council rates comprise just 7 per cent of tax in New Zealand. Central government controls the rest – amongst the highest in the world.

    “Consolidating this revenue in a small country like New Zealand creates economies of scale, but centralising 93 per cent of revenue makes the Government accountable for 93 per cent of the problems.

    “It reduces self-reliance, innovation and customer-centricity in our local and regional government sector to the clear frustration of all Kiwis. Just 40 per cent of voters turned out at the last local body elections.

    “International delegations we have led suggest New Zealand would benefit from a more equal relationship between regional and local government, allowing solutions tailored to the local and regional level but aligned to critical national outcomes.

    “Changes to funding and delivering public services are required.

    “Central government needs to step back from delivery and move into a greater system oversight role. The Government is the only institution capable of overseeing the country as a whole. When it’s delivering services, it is focusing on the small at the expense of the big.

    “Regions need to be reinvented to spatially plan, deliver spatially-specific services and promote regional outcomes, including economic development. Housing and transport could be devolved to regions, and central government could crack the whip to make sure problems get solved.

    “A balanced scorecard will be published, rating regional government from A to D on things like alignment to national outcomes and value for money.

    “Central government controls 93 per cent of taxation in New Zealand, among the highest in the world. Devolving some funding to regions based on the A to D ratings would incentivise them to compete for sustainable development.

    “With the water sector consolidating into regional water service providers, local councils could prioritise the things they’re good at: representing their community, tackling local issues and building their identity.

    “We could have greater local representation, together with reinvigorated regional representation and a central government focused on bringing it all together.

    “Current government reforms are on the right track, but by centralising more responsibility there is a risk of increased policy uncertainty every three years and reduced agility to respond to pressures.

    “Successful democratic systems internationally use “place” as the means to integrate services and deliver outcomes and an enhanced regional government model here could do the same,” Selwood says.

    The latest Infrastructure NZ report, Building Regions: A Vision for local government, planning law and funding reform can be found here.

    Click here to view Infrastructure New Zealand's latest report.

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Paul Blair on 021 902 436

  • 19 Aug 2019 6:15 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “Infrastructure New Zealand’s annual Building Nations Symposium will inject over $2 million into the local Rotorua economy this week,” says Paul Blair, incoming CEO of Infrastructure NZ.

    “The country’s largest infrastructure conference begins on Wednesday 21 August at Rotorua’s Energy Events Centre, hosting over 700 delegates across three days.

    “Economic analysts, Infometrics estimate that almost $2.5 million will be spent in Rotorua over the duration of the Building Nations Symposium, without accounting for any additional spending before or after the conference.”

    Delegates will come from across New Zealand, as well as the UK, Australia, Japan and China to attend the symposium, showcasing Rotorua as an important international conference destination. Infrastructure New Zealand is bringing a range of high profile speakers to Rotorua for the symposium, including four Ministers, the Leader of the Opposition, six mayors and council CEOs, the former CEO of Manchester City Council, the Australian High Commissioner to New Zealand, the Chief Executive of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland, and numerous other infrastructure leaders.

    The first two days of the symposium will be dedicated to discussion around regional growth and development, but on Friday 24th August, the focus will firmly be on Rotorua, with delegates taking part in a range of iconic Rotorua tourist activities, including the Skyline Gondola and Luge, Ziplining with Rotorua Canopy Tours, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Explorer and Whakarewarewa, the Living Māori Village.

    Local accommodation providers also stand to benefit, with at least 1400 accommodation bookings over the two nights of the symposium. Flights into Rotorua from Auckland are completely sold out for Tuesday 20th August.

    Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said the city was honoured to host the symposium. “This year’s theme of Building Regions epitomises the period of growth that Rotorua is currently undergoing and we are excited to share with delegates some of the work that is underway. This is the second biggest event Rotorua will host this year so I am excited that our city will be able to benefit from visitors keen to experience what we have to offer.”

    Reducing our footprint

    “This year’s symposium will also be one of the country’s most sustainable,” Blair says, “with an emphasis on minimising waste and maximising benefits for the Rotorua community.

    “The event will have a waste-minimisation policy, with no single use coffee cups, bottles, or straws, and recycled materials used wherever possible.

    “We have worked with our exhibitors, sponsors, and key suppliers to reuse materials, minimise packaging, use local staff wherever possible, and eliminate giveaways to ensure our symposium produces as little waste as possible.

    “We have also worked extensively with our caterers to minimise food waste. All excess food will be donated to the Love Soup Charity who support the homeless community in Rotorua.

    “Our caterers will also collect any leftover food scraps, diverting them from landfills and donating them to a livestock farm in the Rotorua region.

    “This year’s symposium will leverage local suppliers to reduce food miles and maximise our positive impact in the region. An estimated $200,000 will be spent with local caterers alone. Some delegates will also be giving back by volunteering with a local environmental organisation, setting traps to rid pests from a local native forest area.

    “Bringing one of New Zealand’s largest conferences to Rotorua is an exciting opportunity to showcase the regions and their value to the infrastructure industry.

    “This year’s theme is Building Regions, and discussion will centre on how to empower the heartland to drive regional development in New Zealand.

    “Infrastructure NZ is proud that the Building Nations Symposium will bring over $2 million to the Rotorua economy while also being one of the most sustainable events in the country,” says Blair.

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Paul Blair on 021 902 436


  • 07 Aug 2019 9:58 AM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    Infrastructure New Zealand has announced a strong line up of local and international speakers ahead of this year’s Building Nations Symposium. Underway at Rotorua’s Energy Events Centre from August 21-23, Building Nations 2019 will focus on Building Regions, and how we can make the right investment and policy decisions to position our regions for growth.

    The organisation is bringing several high-profile speakers from the UK and Australia to speak at the Symposium, who will present learnings that New Zealand may be able to apply to resolve our own infrastructure challenges.

    Sir Howard Bernstein, Former CEO of Manchester City Council will speak on his experiences of City Deals in Manchester, and how New Zealand might use the Provincial Growth Fund to help our regions thrive.

    Matt Collins of the Cities Transformation Taskforce, Queensland Treasury will set out the Australian approach to regional development through a case study on the South East Queensland City Deal.

    Professor Andrew McNaughton, Strategic Advisor for HS2 will present learnings from the High Speed Rail 2 Project between Birmingham and London and the possibilities regional rail could unlock for New Zealand. 

    Alan Sutherland, Chief Executive of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland will discuss the benefits of water regulation and how this could lift the performance of New Zealand’s own water sector.

    Hearing these international experts will assist New Zealand’s infrastructure leaders to plan, fund and shape our infrastructure investment, Infrastructure New Zealand CEO Stephen Selwood says “Many of the infrastructure challenges that New Zealand is currently facing – traffic congestion, poor performance in the water sector, declining regions - are similar to what is happening around the world. Our current planning and funding framework for infrastructure and regional development is not creating the outcomes we need. The Symposium enables us to learn what other nations are doing to help us resolve these challenges.”

    Alongside these international speakers, Infrastructure New Zealand has announced an impressive list of local speakers for Building Regions who will set out the latest policy developments and market opportunities. Speakers include (among others):

    • Hon Steve Chadwick, Her Worship the Mayor of Rotorua
    • Hon Grant Robertson: Minister of Finance, Minister for Tourism
    • Hon Phil Twyford: Minister for Transport and Housing
    • Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister for Local Government
    • Sue Bidrose, CEO Dunedin City Council
    • Jim Boult, Mayor of Queenstown
    • Heather Shotter, CEO Palmerston North City Council
    • Amanda Moran, Ministry for the Environment
    • Jon Grayson, Deputy Secretary NZ Treasury
    • Peter Mersi, CEO, Ministry of Transport

    The full programme can be accessed here.

    Other key themes for this year’s Symposium include:

    • Local Government Funding
    • Delivering Affordable Housing at Scale
    • Water Sector Reform
    • Resource Management Reform
    • The Future of Local Government in New Zealand
    • Lifting the Capability of the Infrastructure Sector
    • Regional Rail Connectivity
    • Provincial Growth Fund

    Building Nations is New Zealand’s premier infrastructure conference, attended by 800+ public and private sector infrastructure leaders and a key forum for announcing infrastructure policy and investment decisions. The theme of Building Nations 2019 is Building Regions: how New Zealand can position our regions for growth, fund the investment we need and tackle the challenges facing our housing, water and transport sectors.

    Notes for the editor

    • Building Nations is New Zealand’s leading infrastructure event, managed by Infrastructure New Zealand.
    • Building Nations 2019 will be held at Rotorua’s Energy Events Centre from August 21 to 23.
    • Infrastructure New Zealand is New Zealand’s peak infrastructure body. The organisation’s core purpose is to advance best practice in the development of world class transport, energy, water, telecommunications and social infrastructure for all New Zealanders.
    • HS2 is a rapid rail system currently under construction that will link London and Birmingham to Manchester, the East Midlands and Leeds. It is Europe’s largest infrastructure project.

    For more information about Building Nations click here.

    ENDS

    If you have any queries about Building Nations, please contact:

    Jessica Bell, Communications

    Infrastructure New Zealand

    Jessica.bell@infrastructure.org.nz

    0274 039945
  • 22 Jul 2019 8:03 AM | Anonymous

    Guest Stephen Selwood the CEO of Infrastructure New Zealand. Host Kim Campbell. Watch the video here.

  • 15 Jul 2019 10:00 AM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    Infrastructure New Zealand Chair Andrew Stevens today announced that former BNZ General Manager of Institutional Banking Paul Blair will take over as Chief Executive of Infrastructure New Zealand following the Building Nations Symposium to be held in Rotorua on the 21-23 August.

    “I’m very pleased to announce that Paul Blair, a former board member of Infrastructure NZ and BNZ executive, will move into the role. Paul’s obvious passion for infrastructure and depth of business experience across New Zealand, Australia and UK will ensure the organisation continues to grow and develop in response to New Zealand’s infrastructure needs,” Stevens says.

    “Outgoing CEO Stephen Selwood took an idea for a new business advocacy group and over 14 years turned it into one of New Zealand’s most respected thought leadership organisations. He helped kick off the process for governance reform in Auckland and RMA reform nationally and fought long and hard for the soon to be established New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, among a long list of other achievements.

    “Infrastructure is the physical platform for national well-being and development. It has been a tremendous privilege to lead Infrastructure New Zealand as the peak industry body for such a critical sector,” says Stephen Selwood.

    “I’m looking forward to a continuing contribution in industry governance roles, both public and private. I know that Paul is as passionate about the sector as I am and will now take the organisation to a new level,” Selwood says.

    “I’ve worked with Stephen for a number of years and would like to thank him for his enormous contribution to New Zealand infrastructure. I’m excited to be moving into an organisation and a role with such momentum and opportunity to improve New Zealand’s prosperity, living standards and environment,” Blair says.


    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Andrew Stevens on 027 245 7730

  • 04 Jul 2019 4:08 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “New Zealand needs a proactive approach to national planning and development to deliver wellbeing,” says Infrastructure New Zealand CEO Stephen Selwood.

    “That’s the key recommendation from an Infrastructure New Zealand report released today entitled National Development: Insights from Asia.

    “In March this year, we took 75 infrastructure leaders to Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai to see how these cities and countries have been so successful at accommodating growth and lifting national performance”.

    “What we saw was a real wake-up call,” Selwood says.

    “We all know about China’s incredible economic story and most now know that Singapore is one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

    “But equally striking was the progress each government is making in terms of social and environmental outcomes.

    “The same development model that the Singapore, Hong Kong and Chinese governments have successfully used to turn their economies around is now being applied to lifestyle and the natural environment.

    “Cities are becoming cleaner, more sustainable and more liveable.

    “Further, by growing efficiently, costs are being contained to ensure that rising incomes are not consumed by higher accommodation and living costs. Lower costs of living result in more competitive economies and higher disposable incomes.

    “The key to this success is a national development approach to enabling growth and tackling challenges.

    “Singapore and China have become expert in setting a clear vision for national development, defining the outcomes they want the nation to achieve and then delivering on those objectives through joined up agencies, plans and projects.

    “Certainty of planning enables the market to invest with confidence, enabling a virtuous cycle of public and private sector investment. 

    “This approach to national development planning is similar to that which we have seen in successful western democracies like Ireland, Scotland and Scandinavia, and across the Australian states.

    “In New Zealand, we don’t manage our economy or our wider society that way.

    “Our system devolves regional and urban planning to councils. Central government provides little guidance as to how best planning can meet national objectives.

    “At the same time, major funding sources, principally GST, income and corporate tax go to central government.

    “This means councils operate on a narrow funding base comprising property rates and user charges with only a weak linkage to economic performance. 

    “Ratepayers typically oppose taxes being increased to pay for growth, so elected officials keep rates low and there is seldom enough money to fund much needed infrastructure.

    “Under pressure to contain costs, councils regulate land supply and defer infrastructure investment. Lack of infrastructure serviced land causes land and home prices to rise resulting in a housing affordability crisis for those on low to median incomes. Increased housing costs mean less disposable income, a decline in well-being and an increase in inequality and other social challenges.

    “Compounding matters further, weak infrastructure imposes costs on business, disincentivises investment and constrains our ability to lift productivity.

    “We all know that Singapore and China have vastly different political systems to New Zealand. But this is no reason why we cannot emulate their ability to set a vision and develop a national plan to unlock the potential of our free market economy.

    “We are a small nation endowed with natural resources and talented people. While we lack scale, we could be agile and able to respond quickly to national opportunities and challenges. This should be New Zealand’s competitive advantage. But to realise this potential we need to lift our vision beyond self-interest and local parochialism and develop a system which incentivises partnership and collaboration.

    “The resource management framework has not only failed the environment, its focus on negative effects has left New Zealand with an unclear vision and pathway for how the country should grow and develop. It must go.

    “We need to simplify local government structure and laws and link funding to investment in regional and national development.

    “Central government has to get back into planning. New Zealand needs a national plan which identifies and enables investment in land, housing, transport and other critical services needed to enable sustainable development and tackle major challenges like climate change.

    “Rather than just managing negative effects, the system should promote environmental restoration and development.

    “Planning is a very powerful tool, so we need to balance centralised power with greater devolution of funding and delivery. We need stronger regions with spatial planning capability and access to GST or a share of income and corporate taxes to fund and deliver their plans.

    “Central government should transition from a funder and provider of services, to an enabler of strengthened regions via strong national guidance.

    “This means substantive change. It’s going to take some time to empower regions to plan, fund and deliver national development. 

    “The first milestone could be for the Government to use financial incentives like ‘city’ or ‘regional’ deals, to incentivise councils to work together, partner with business and promote alignment between national, regional and local objectives.

    “Once benefits of collaboration can be tangibly demonstrated this can be a stepping stone to full reform of our planning laws and the purpose, form and funding of local government.

    “Establishing a system that aligns central, regional and local council planning, funding and delivery and which promotes individual enterprise, entrepreneurship and local identity provides an opportunity to improve wellbeing for all of New Zealand,” Selwood says.

    A copy of the latest Infrastructure New Zealand report National Development: Insights from Asia can be found here

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209


  • 04 Jul 2019 9:15 AM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “While the Productivity Commission’s draft report on Local Government Funding and Financing provides some useful recommendations to improve the current system, the report falls short of advancing the level of change need to lift New Zealand’s productivity,” say Stephen Selwood Chief Executive of Infrastructure New Zealand.

    “It is pleasing that the Commission has reinforced earlier findings which emphasise the importance of beneficiaries contributing a greater share of local government costs and of the urgent need for three waters services reform.

    “The Commission has also highlighted an opportunity to reduce reporting requirements for councils which are now so onerous as to be counterproductive and has recommended removing rating differentials, something which will be pleasing for business.

    “However, the Commission’s preference for leaving the status quo rates-based system in place is difficult to reconcile with New Zealand’s steadily declining productivity.

    “Just two weeks ago, the OECD showed that New Zealand’s labour productivity has fallen some 15 per cent vis-à-vis Australia and other strong OECD economies over the past 25 years.

    “There is no clear link between the Commission’s recommendations and a turnaround in New Zealand incomes and living standards, despite the critical role local government plays in supporting growth.

    “New Zealand needs to go right back to square one and, instead of asking how best to fund local government, ask who’s best placed to deliver services which promote economic, social and environmental outcomes and with what resources.

    “Currently growth is a problem for many councils. More residents mean more infrastructure costs to councils which they have to pass on to their reluctant constituents while most of the dividend from growth goes to central government in the form of GST, income  and corporate taxes.

    “In other nations like Australia, the US and Europe, states and local government receive a share of general taxes which incentivises them to enable and encourage growth.

    “Cities in the US compete for millennials, private investment and growth because that’s what enables local government to provide improving services.

    “PwC found earlier this year that households in Australian cities are now up to $400 per week better off than they were a decade ago thanks to better growth management. Many households in New Zealand’s growth centres have actually become worse off.

    “One option for the Government could be to set up City Deals like Manchester or Western Sydney. These are designed to incentivise states and councils to work collaboratively to enable growth and when they do will receive a share of the growth dividend from the Government.

    “This could be an inducement to councils to cooperate and develop credible regional development plans designed to lift New Zealand’s productivity.

    “The combination of strengthened national leadership, backed by regional development planning and an agreement for a share of GST to regions who get their act together could be transformational for New Zealand.

    “Tweaking the status quo will help but will not achieve national aspirations for lifting productivity and improving wellbeing,” Selwood said.

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209

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