Infrastructure new Zealand MEDIA & RELEASES

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

  • 17 Mar 2020 5:24 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “The Government’s $12.1 billion COVID-19 package will soften the impacts of COVID-19 for individuals and businesses, however these extraordinary times also create the conditions for our Government to build investment momentum,” says Paul Blair CEO of Infrastructure NZ.

    “We’re especially pleased with the reinstatement of depreciation deductions for commercial and industrial buildings. This will allow around $2.1 billion in tax to remain with building owners and it is now incumbent upon them to follow the Government’s lead and inject that money into building upgrades and maintenance.

    “If building owners can take advantage of slack in the employment sector and taxpayer assistance, New Zealand could emerge from this crisis with greener, safer and healthier buildings. We’ll be more efficient, more sustainable and more resilient.

    “The big opportunity, however, is in the third and as yet unannounced component of the Government’s response – the broader recovery package.

    “If the Government gets it right, New Zealand will seize this opportunity to unlock constraints to our social, economic, cultural and environmental progress which have built up over many years, allowing our economy and people to bounce back quickly.

    “Infrastructure NZ has developed ten recovery priorities to ensure New Zealand comes out of this crisis stronger than it went in:

    1.       Fund local transport and water projects – many councils have consented, shovel ready projects across every town in New Zealand that are ready to go today and don’t need big workforces. Infrastructure New Zealand’s Building Regions proposal aligns well with the Crown’s unfunded Urban Growth Partnerships – the May Budget must introduce a new co-funding regime to get these projects done.

    2.       Rapidly mobilise the Infrastructure Commission – some councils don’t even need money to invest in long overdue water and transport projects, just capability. The faster we bring the Infrastructure Commission’s project advisory team on board, the more central and local projects we can unlock.

    3.       Double down on housing growth – Kāinga Ora and the Government’s urban growth agenda must build on progress to address the housing crisis and support urban land supply.

    4.       Let NZTA borrow – the Transport Agency doesn’t currently have its own borrowing capacity, but it does have a reliable revenue stream and big asset base. If NZTA could borrow in the same way as Kāinga Ora, multi-year transport programmes could be funded. If NZTA has funding certainty it will also enable councils to spend 100% of their transport capex programmes – today these are often underspent as NZTA doesn’t have sufficient funding.

    5.       Invest in green energy – we’ll never again have the opportunity to tackle emissions and climate change that we have today. A number of major renewable electricity projects are consented and awaiting transmission investment, but Transpower is unable to invest ahead of demand. Bring the energy programme forward to accelerate the shift away from oil.

    6.       Consenting and design – not all projects need shovels and there are thousands of skilled workers who will slip onto welfare if the pipeline stops. We may need infrastructure spend to be a fiscal lever for us in the months ahead – why not design, consent and build business cases now to create a ‘shovel ready’ pipeline for the future?

    7.       Streamlined RMA consents and Public Works Act initiatives – the progress New Zealand made to recover from the devastating Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes was enabled by streamlining RMA processes. Let’s use these extraordinary times to ensure projects of national significance get consented, or Public Works Act interventions are made, to cut through excessive delays.

    8.       Alliance contracting and open-book project delivery partnerships – we can cut down on the time it takes to tender and procure work by signing longer term and bundled project contracts. An open book approach can ensure the taxpayer gets value for money and give employers confidence to keep and take on staff.

    9.       Apprenticeships – some sectors New Zealand’s workforce will be hit hard. The Government can and should attach conditions to infrastructure delivery which require training, upskilling and apprenticeships of those looking for a new career. 

    10.   RISK – not taking risks in the current environment, is taking risks. The Government is going to have to move quickly and responsively to a situation moving much faster than any infrastructure project. Some decisions will turn out to be wrong, others right. It will be no different for business owners. The Government must continue to exploit its size, authority and balance sheet to de-risk private sector investment and back New Zealand.

    “If we implement these measures, New Zealand can tackle long standing, costly and damaging impacts from many years of high growth and weak investment. Never waste a good crisis,” says Blair.

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Paul Blair on 021 902 436
  • 06 Mar 2020 3:43 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “Today’s announcement of a new city in Drury, south of Auckland is very exciting and represents a much needed shift in the way New Zealand plans and funds urban growth, but it is not yet clear whether housing in the new city will be affordable or supports Government aspirations for competitive land supply,” says Infrastructure NZ CEO Paul Blair.

    “The new Drury development takes some concepts from Infrastructure New Zealand’s October 2017 ‘Innovation City’ report on how to create a satellite city.

    “The Government is integrating housing and employment via $2.4 billion in strategic transport links around Drury, which was announced in January as part of $6.8 billion in Government transport infrastructure investment.

    “We applaud this new delivery partnership with local government and the private sector.

    “The old model of permitting growth and then trying to retrofit transport and other infrastructure has resolutely failed, resulting in high infrastructure costs, constrained housing supply and poor urban outcomes.

    “On the back of today’s announcements, property owners, developers and housing providers have been let off the leash and we should now see housing and development at scale and aligned with a shared vision for Auckland’s south.

    “Of importance to all New Zealanders is that the $2.4 billion of Government transport investment will unlock over 40,000 homes.

    “If these homes sold for Auckland’s median home value of around $900,000, $36 billion in residential development activity would be generated. The Government would yield $5.4 billion in GST alone – more than twice its transport investment.

    “Add in commercial and other development and it’s no exaggeration to say that the Drury project is a $50 billion initiative built off just a $2.4 billion transport injection.

    “However, while this new approach is to be commended, it is still not clear whether it will materially shift the dial on Auckland’s housing crisis.

    “Auckland does not need 40,000 million-dollar homes, it needs 40,000 five hundred-thousand dollar homes.

    “Unfortunately, land rezoning around Drury has been anticipated for many years, meaning land prices have already escalated in expectation of public investment.

    “Construction of affordable housing will now be difficult, if not impossible, without public subsidy and developers will be under pressure to manage housing supply to maintain land values.

    “For the Government to really get on top of housing in Auckland and other growth areas, more announcements like today’s will be required.

    “This will generate competition in land markets, discouraging land banking and speculation, and will provide government with the ability to negotiate with land-owners for shared benefit.

    “We agree with Minister Twyford that this is a very rare New Zealand example of the infrastructure ‘cart’ coming before the housing ‘horse’.

    “The Government should seize the chance to scale this model up dramatically to the regional level around new, co-designed spatial plans.

    “Infrastructure New Zealand calls for most of the unspent $4 billion capital allowance to be applied in the May Budget to the fifth, unfunded limb of the Crown’s Urban Growth Agenda, Urban Growth Partnerships.

    “Infrastructure New Zealand’s 2019 Building Regions report provides a framework for how urban developments such as Drury can be incorporated into larger regional spatial plans to deliver cheaper, high quality housing but also co-designed and integrated schools, industrial areas, hospitals and transport links.

    “If we can manage this in Drury, just imagine what cheaper, faster, better quality outcomes can be achieved for all New Zealanders through a regional growth partnership model,” Blair said.


    ENDS

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

  • 05 Mar 2020 2:40 PM | Anonymous
    MEDIA RELEASE


    Infrastructure New Zealand members are demonstrating their commitment to improving gender equality, hosting events up and down the country in celebration of International Women’s Day 2020.

    Aligning with this year’s theme of #EachforEqual, the events will showcase how a more gender equal world benefits business, communities, families and women themselves.

    International Women’s Day 2020 comes just after the signing of the much-anticipated Diversity Agenda Accord, a cross-industry commitment to improve diversity and inclusion within New Zealand’s engineering and architecture sectors.

    Increasing the participation of women is a vital issue within the New Zealand infrastructure sector, says Sarah Lang, founder of the Women’s Infrastructure Network, “It’s exciting to see the continued progress our industry is making in improving gender equality, but our challenge remains to maintain momentum. International Women’s Day is an important opportunity to celebrate how far we have come”.

    Infrastructure New Zealand CEO Paul Blair emphasised the importance of a balanced infrastructure sector to deliver the strong pipeline of work ahead. “To achieve Infrastructure New Zealand’s vision of world class infrastructure we need more women in leadership, governance and across key roles in our industry. Infrastructure only exists to deliver key outcomes for people and to respond to community needs, so the voices of all of our society need to be heard if we are to have a more inclusive, future proofed and well performing industry.”

    WIN Board Chair Margaret Devlin said it was encouraging to see the wide range of initiatives members had planned for International Women’s Day but urged the industry to maintain momentum. “It is really important that this momentum continues and embraced by all those who operate in the infrastructure sector. Of course, diversity is but one side of the equation, we also need to focus on inclusion. Only focusing on diversity without also taking steps to address inclusion will fail to create or sustain meaningful change in this very critical area. So, whilst much has been done, there is more to be done by all members of Infrastructure NZ.”

    The Women’s Infrastructure Network will be celebrating International Women’s Day with networking events in Auckland and Waikato. Sarah will be speaking as part of a panel on the Future of Work hosted by British New Zealand Business Association and Hesketh Henry, for International Women’s Day, alongside Sarah Trotman, ONZM, Member at Waitemata Local Board of Auckland Council; Margaret Cox, former Irish Government Senator for 10 years and Charlotte Lockhart, 4 Day Week Global Foundation.

    Infrastructure NZ member organisations are planning a raft of celebration activities for International Women’s Day, including panel discussions, staff networking events, internal and external communications and even a photography exhibition.

    Infrastructure NZ applauds these member organisations and many others who are taking a proactive approach with diversity and inclusion initiatives within their organisation. “Ensuring the infrastructure sector is reflective of the wider community, and is attractive to the best and brightest minds no matter to whom they belong, will ensure we have a bright future.” says Sarah Lang.

    ENDS

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


  • 29 Jan 2020 3:42 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “The Government’s $12 billion infrastructure programme is a fantastic start towards building the infrastructure New Zealand needs to realise its potential,” says Infrastructure New Zealand CEO Paul Blair.

    The Government announced the details for over $7 billion of its $12 billion in infrastructure spending today. Transport investments were made across New Zealand’s growth areas, with $5.3 billion allocated to road corridors (including accompanying cycle- and footpaths), $1.1 billion to rail, and nearly $400 million on the Skypath and Seapath for cycling and walking across Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour.

    The announcements also included $300 million for health facilities, the previously announced $400 million for schools, and a portion of the promised $200 million for decarbonising heating at hospitals and schools.

    “The infrastructure sector has been crying out for investment and a long-term pipeline, which this package delivers. The new partnership approach outlined in the Construction Sector Accord is now absolutely critical to move these plans off the page and into the hands of Kiwis,” says Blair.

    Announcements about how the $4 billion Multi-Year Capital Allowance will be spent can be expected at the May Budget and the Auckland Light Rail decision is expected soon.

    “The additional spending and multi-year nature of the package should provide the sector with the confidence to ramp up recruitment, training, and capital investment, with more yet to come,” says Blair.

    “Te Waihanga – the NZ Infrastructure Commission – will be producing a long-term infrastructure strategy for New Zealand within the next two years that we expect will reveal tens of billions of infrastructure need across the country.

    “Our water, schools, hospitals, climate resilience, defence, and housing infrastructure all have significant needs.

    “Today’s announcements show central government’s funding power, however local government owns 40 per cent of our infrastructure and largely control RMA processes which are critical to delivering projects.

    “We call for enhanced partnership between central and local government (including the right funding and incentives), to maximise the effectiveness of this top-down investment.

    “The time is right to move our attitude from infrastructure ‘costs’ to ‘investments.’ With a strong fiscal position and low borrowing costs, there has never been a better time for a long-term, multi-partisan approach to investing in New Zealand’s future wellbeing," says Blair.

    ENDS

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

  • 20 Jan 2020 3:22 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “News that New Zealand is the second least affordable place to buy a house, after only Hong Kong, is sadly unsurprising, and signals that a new approach is needed to get more homes built and make housing affordable,” says Infrastructure New Zealand CEO Paul Blair.

    Today, Demographia released its most recent annual report into housing affordability in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK, and the US.

    All eight New Zealand cities were assessed as severely unaffordable, as each had median house prices over five times their median income. Affordability is assessed by a ratio of three or lower.

    “Unfortunately this news is no surprise. It confirms that the problem is New Zealand-wide, and not limited to large or fast-growing cities like Auckland,” says Blair.

    “From Dunedin to Auckland, the challenge of building enough homes is an enormous problem, and it’s primarily because councils are unable to pay for the infrastructure needed to bring down land prices.

    “Local councils in New Zealand build and maintain almost 40% of this country’s infrastructure, primarily local roads, pipes, and sewers, which is about the same amount as the central government looks after.

    “But local councils only have one tenth the amount of money to spend on it compared to central government.

    “As our towns and cities grow, central government enjoys the benefit of this economic growth, while councils are legally restricted to only recovering their costs.

    “Council debt constraints add to this problem and mean that councils are unable to invest in public transit, roads, and pipes where 85% of New Zealanders live.

    “Infrastructure New Zealand’s Building Regions report proposes a series of partnership agreements between central government and local councils, grouped around regional spatial plans.

    “Central government doesn’t have direct land use powers under the current resource management system, so local government’s ‘bottom-up’ ability to influence land use must be enabled.

    “In return for central government providing local councils with a new, long-term share of national taxes, local councils can free up infrastructure-serviced land for housing in a way that meets central and local objectives for better housing affordability and choice.

    “Incentivising local councils with a share of the dividends from economic growth so they can invest in infrastructure to create more economic growth and free up land for housing just makes sense.

    “After all, it is central government who pays the bill when unaffordable housing puts people on the street, forces people live in damp homes, or eats away at the savings that people should have.

    “Our unaffordable homes are making us poorer, less equal, and less efficient. The longer this housing crisis continues, the greater the costs to New Zealand and New Zealanders,” says Blair.

    ENDS

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


  • 12 Dec 2019 3:03 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “Important policy and legislative developments have landed today which could enable a bolder, more streamlined way of delivering new infrastructure for the benefit all New Zealanders,” says Infrastructure New Zealand CEO Paul Blair.

    “New government announcements and a Productivity Commission report this week are reiterating that New Zealand needs new ways of working together, brought together by a coherent vision, to dramatically change outcomes for the better.

    “First, new Infrastructure Funding and Financing (IFF) legislation was introduced to the House today with bi-partisan support. IFF is a new, user-pays tool for funding local roading and water infrastructure.

    “The biggest obstacle to adequate land supply, and therefore affordable housing, in New Zealand’s cities is that our growth councils have insufficient funding for this local infrastructure.

    “IFF will provide a new way to fund infrastructure outside our traditional council-led methods, accelerating the supply of infrastructure-provisioned land instead of our cities choking at the cost of affordable housing.

    “Second, the Productivity Commission’s final report on Local Government Funding and Financing, also released today, calls for greater use of volumetric charges on drinking and wastewater, as well as road pricing, which can both manage demand and raise vital infrastructure funding revenue.

    “The Commission also calls on the Crown to pay their fair share of local infrastructure costs, including through rates and development charges, and to support the local costs that they benefit from (e.g., climate change costs and flood protection works).

    “Third, today’s Upper North Island Supply Chain final report recommends moving the Ports of Auckland by 2034.

    “Pleasingly, the Government has instructed the Ministry of Transport to investigate options and impacts and officials will work with the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission – Te Waihanga to ensure the right long-term decisions are made for New Zealand.

    “Critical governance, timing, commercial, and environmental questions will be answered through this process which can bring communities, business, and iwi into this nationally important decision.

    “Finally, the Environmental Defence Society released their synthesis report A model for the future last night which undertook a first-principles look at the resource management system.

    “The report emphasises the need for significant revision of not just the Resource Management Act, but also local government institutions, spatial planning, and funding.

    “Today’s announcements, alongside a string of further initiatives relating to water, development, and other infrastructure are part of an ambitious programme of reform.

    “What is now needed is a consolidated national development plan which aligns these reforms, explains them in terms of their role in achieving the Government’s national development vision, and provides a clear direction for local government and the private sector to implement national policy.

    “These important reforms will significantly change our infrastructure delivery platform. However, they are practical but short-term steps towards a coherent, long-term and nationally aligned vision for Aotearoa.

    “Infrastructure New Zealand applauds the scale of ambition behind these changes, but we look forward to a national conversation about the 30+ year vision for the lives that all New Zealanders want to live and the national development plan that aligns us all to deliver that vision at pace,” says Blair.

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Paul Blair on 021 902 436
  • 11 Dec 2019 5:23 AM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “We’re delighted with today’s announcement of $12 billion in new capital investment by the Government,” says Infrastructure New Zealand CEO Paul Blair.

    “The next critical step is to give the industry certainty, execute effectively, and procure in partnership with iwi, councils, and the private sector in alignment with the Construction Sector Accord principles.

    “It is encouraging to see the Government using its recent surplus to invest in productive infrastructure to deliver environmental, social, cultural, and economic outcomes.

    “Transport, health and regional investment, as well as earlier announced spending on schools, comprise the majority of the allocations.

    “A long awaited $6.8 billion investment in roads and rail is the highlight of the package and represents by far the largest transport commitment from the consolidated fund by any Government in over a generation.

    “The $300 million allocated to regional investment could generate significant benefits in the provinces, particularly if leveraged to attract local and private investment.

    “Stepped increases in capital spending over the next few years will see net new Government capital investment peak at close to $12 billion in 2021, up from just $1 billion five years ago.

    “Project reprioritisation has impacted both government and industry’s ability to get projects delivered in recent years, affecting business confidence and economic performance.

    “A significant barrier to execution is the Resource Management Act, which is why we’re delighted to see the Randerson-led review underway.

    “In the interim, the most effective way to expedite resource management approvals would be to partner with councils to make sure that communities, iwi, and businesses are adequately engaged on projects.

    “Two of our poorer performing infrastructure portfolios, housing and water, do not feature heavily in today’s announcement.

    “However, it is pleasing to see critical legislation around a new drinking water regulator, new powers for Kāinga Ora, and new infrastructure funding and financing tools being addressed with urgency.

    “For urban development to be effective, urban water, transport and housing need to be planned and delivered in an integrated fashion.

    “If the Government can deliver its ambitious programme, this is a great start to build momentum and address our long-standing infrastructure issues, but we are not there yet,” says Blair.

    ENDS

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


  • 21 Nov 2019 12:07 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “Relocating Auckland’s freight port is one of the biggest decisions this country will ever make and needs a full assessment of all the challenges and opportunities,” says Infrastructure New Zealand CEO Paul Blair.

    “We recommend that the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy (UNISCS) reports be upgraded to a fully compliant Better Business Case, with independent oversight from the Infrastructure Commission.

    “New Zealand Cabinet Rules and NZ Treasury advocates use of the Better Business Case for all significant investment decisions involving whole of life costs of more than NZ$15 million.

    “Infrastructure New Zealand welcomes constructive debate on the critical transport infrastructure of the Upper North Island supply chain.

    “We applaud UNISCS Working Group for shining a light on this important sector, but think this is the start of the discussion, not a conclusion.

    “Infrastructure Victoria, the state’s equivalent of our new Infrastructure Commission, led a detailed and independent assessment of Victoria’s port strategy in 2017, which considered a new port to supplement or replace the existing Port of Melbourne.

    “Infrastructure Victoria highlighted two critical factors for an efficient and effective port, based on global best practice. Ports should be as close as possible to their customers to minimise land transport costs and have a balance of imports and exports to avoid the costs of shipping empty containers to the next port.

    “Infrastructure Victoria’s independence, use of global port experts, and wide consultation produced an evidence base which removed the political heat that surrounded Victoria’s port future. We believe a similar process should be used in New Zealand.

    “We have five major questions that we expect a future Better Business Case would fully consider.

    “First, additional freight costs need to be fully addressed. 80% of Ports of Auckland’s goods are currently delivered by truck within 20 kilometers of the port gates. Even if 70% of freight arrives back in Auckland by rail, it will arrive at an inland port somewhere in West Auckland and still need to move 20-30 kilometres to its final destination. In addition to financial costs, the report is silent on the substantial carbon emissions and potential road and rail safety issues from freight travelling through the crowded Auckland isthmus.

    “Second, if Ports of Auckland is forced to close and the government builds a new port 140 km north, how confident are we that freight companies will go to Northport?

    “Shipping companies will go to ports where they can balance export and import loads to minimise the number of vessel calls. Northland does have a growing export base, but it is substantially less than Auckland’s import volume. Even if the freight did follow the investment to Northport, we may all be paying much more to have empty containers moved from Northport to our main export port in Tauranga.

    “Third, we need to consider what the issues are that we are trying to solve and what’s the best way to achieve them.

    “If we want to revitalise Northland, is this $10+ billion investment the best bang-for-buck? If we are aiming to decongest Auckland, will this move really solve the city’s transport woes? We call for further investigation of revenue-neutral road pricing as a tool to unblock traffic congestion.

    “Fourth, we need to understand who pays for this move and who benefits. The UNISCS report gives us an overall cost-benefit ratio, but individuals and businesses will be impacted in significant and divergent ways. Moreover, the analysis is heavily influenced by which projects are included in it.

    “If Aucklanders want a low-density parkland waterfront, are they willing to pay for that in higher rates, taxes, and higher costs on their goods?

    “Lastly, each of the ports in question (Auckland, Tauranga, and Northport) have different ownership and governance structures. Taxpayer investment of $10+ billion will produce costs and benefits for individuals, councils and private investors. Rationalisation of the governance of our ports would be complex but must be considered given the amount of money involved.

    “The proposed port move would be New Zealand’s largest ever infrastructure investment and will have long-lasting impacts on New Zealand.

    “The Infrastructure Commission was established precisely to provide an independent evidence base for these kinds of infrastructure decisions.

    “We should use their independence and expertise to make sure this once-in-a-century decision is the right one,” says Blair.

    ENDS

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


  • 12 Nov 2019 3:39 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    “Today’s update of the Infrastructure Pipeline is a sign that the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission – Te Waihanga is making good progress and we look forward to more government agencies, councils, and council-controlled organisations contributing to the pipeline over time,” says Paul Blair, CEO of Infrastructure New Zealand.

    “The Commission has launched its first update of the Infrastructure Pipeline, a tool which catalogues proposed and underway infrastructure projects across the country.

    “The current project pipeline has a combined value of over $20 billion, but is still only a fraction of what it will eventually become.

    “Around $130 billion is expected to be spent on infrastructure over the next 10 years, including private infrastructure, which future iterations of the pipeline will gradually capture.

    “Particularly pleasing is the introduction of local government projects, continuing momentum towards a single, comprehensive forward works programme for the country.

    “Having a clear pipeline of work is essential for construction and engineering firms to understand what projects are on the horizon and where their labour and capital will be needed next.

    “If projects are slowing down in one region or sector, it is important for firms to be able to readily identify other opportunities around the country.

    “Greater transparency and certainty of work is critical to supporting investment in the skills, technology and systems necessary to improve poor productivity and manage risk across the construction sector.

    “Once the country has an identified pipeline in place, we can really look to optimise investment.

    “Via this approach, Watercare in Auckland expects to reduce the cost of its infrastructure programme by 20 per cent.

    “Even just a 10 per cent saving across the national programme over the next decade would allow some $13 billion of investment to proceed which otherwise would not have.

    “That’s sufficient to deliver the Let’s Get Wellington Moving transport plan and clear the country’s backlog of water supply and wastewater needs, delivering great outcomes for everyday kiwis.

    “The Infrastructure Pipeline illustrates the importance of the Commission’s powers to collect data from government departments, including local councils and their council-controlled organisations.

    “We are pleased to see the Commission continue work on the pipeline and to signal work on their major deliverable: the 30-year Infrastructure Strategy.

    “The Commission will provide the strategy report to the Government towards the end of 2021 and update it at least every 5 years.

    “The strategy and pipeline will ultimately provide a robust evidence base for both public and private investment decisions over the long term, helping to depoliticise major projects and get the most out of the nation’s capital investment,” says Blair.

    ENDS

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


  • 25 Oct 2019 12:24 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    "The decision to establish an independent drinking water regulator is very positive and will help bring New Zealand’s water services up to international standards, but the absence of user charges leaves a significant gap in national water policy which needs to be filled,” says Infrastructure New Zealand CEO Paul Blair.

    “Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Health Minister David Clark announced this morning that the Government will establish an independent drinking water regulator, likely in 2020.

    “This is one of the most significant decisions ever for New Zealand’s three waters service provision.

    “The current drinking water system has failed to keep New Zealanders safe, resulting in up to four deaths in Havelock North and hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders receiving water which fails to meet basic standards every year.

    “That the new regulator will be independent and focus on areas wider than just drinking water quality is particularly pleasing. The regulator will also help build capability across water suppliers, ensure Māori interests in water are recognised and provide oversight of wastewater and stormwater activities to promote environmental outcomes.

    “Water is critical to promoting environmental and cultural wellbeing, as well as sustaining the health and social wellbeing of New Zealanders.

    “But it is also critical to promoting economic wellbeing and there is no clear link in today’s announcement with the vital role water plays in sustaining the New Zealand economy.

    “There are currently major issues in funding, financing, procuring, maintaining and operating water services to meet population and economic growth. This reflects the ownership structure of water provision, which sees 67 often small local councils carry responsibility for three waters provision, as well as investment arrangements which usually see water in New Zealand funded via rates, rather than volumetrically through user charges.

    “Existing challenges are being compounded by a perfect storm of increased regulation, climate change and a backlog of investment starting at $2 billion and likely much higher.

    “Ultimately, user charges are needed to pay for drinking and wastewater infrastructure.

    “Structural separation is also required so that publicly-owned expert water delivery companies can manage debt off council balance sheets, prioritise investment over the long term and sustain necessary service expertise.

    “Priced water needs an economic regulator to ensure consumers are not paying too much or too little for an acceptable standard of service. Scottish Water, the regulated public water provider for Scotland was able to reduce operating costs by 40 per cent and improve levels of service through better specialisation and good economic management.

    “We call for the Government to require the new regulator to benchmark key economic and financial metrics, including the costs of service delivery and long term asset management and investment programmes. This will provide a stepping stone to future full economic regulation.

    “Infrastructure New Zealand fully supports the plan to promote social, environmental and cultural outcomes for water, but a plan without money is not sustainable.

    “We call for the Government to expand its approach to fully account for all four wellbeings in its water policy,” says Blair.

    ENDS

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


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