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24 Nov 2023

INZ Pens Open Letter To Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon, proposes forum for infrastructure sector

Infrastructure New Zealand, the leading national infrastructure development and advocacy body, has written an open letter to Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon - prompting the government to get the country’s social and economic infrastructure ‘back on track.

INZ’s Chair Tracey Ryan and Chief Executive Nick Leggett mention in the letter that the first order of priority is to hold a forum with the government, members of the infrastructure sector, and INZ. The association hopes the government can commit to a forum before Christmas, as there is an ‘urgency of addressing New Zealand’s infrastructure issues.

The proposed government-hosted forum, called Uplift New Zealand, would raise critical social and economic infrastructure issues while setting ‘quick wins’ a medium to long-term timeline for proposed changes. According to INZ, it would demonstrate a ‘public commitment to faster and better delivery of infrastructure projects.

In addition to the proposed forum, INZ has also included the following recommendations for the new government in its open letter:

  • To seek alternate funding and financing mechanisms for infrastructure project deliveries
  • Push for a faster consenting process of renewable energy infrastructure
  • An examination of the public sector infrastructure advisory and delivery ecosystem
  • A modification of the Three Waters reform program
  • A ‘system reboot’ for local governments and how the central government relates to it. 

Setting the tone for infrastructure development

According to Infrastructure New Zealand chief executive Nick Leggett, the proposed Uplift New Zealand forum is a step in the right direction. It would also ‘provide confidence to the infrastructure sector and the New Zealand public that the government's serious.

"If we can guarantee to the industry that there's more coming online and that it's well planned, well-funded, and the business plans are in place, we are going to get efficiencies."

Speaking more on process efficiencies in infrastructure development, Leggett claims that certain social and economic infrastructure ‘can be probably rolled out quite quickly.’ However, more emphasis is needed on widening infrastructure funding and improving market utilisation. 

The infrastructure industry has recently seen projects with high preparation costs go under the chopping block – namely, the Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) and the Auckland Light Rail project. It’s estimated that the LGWM project has an estimated cost of around $7.4 billion so far. 

"We've got to get projects considered earlier, the planning in place, the funding committed so they can actually start building towards a much quicker outcome,” claims Leggett. 

"I think Kiwis are sick of a lack of delivery, and the incoming government has a real chance to harness the frustration and send all the signals to the infrastructure sector that it wants to deliver." 

‘Not an option’ for Three Waters

Leggett states there is a lack of clarity around the Three Waters reform program, which could harm local governments. INZ’s  status quo for Thee Waters is ‘not an option.’ The association hopes the new government will continue its promise of a modified reform program that aligns with the Affordable Water Act 2023. 

"National has committed to repealing the Affordable Water Act, and that will be their prerogative if they get a majority with New Zealand First." 

"We want the incoming government to be briefed by officials so it can actually map out a plan that gives New Zealanders confidence." 

INZ aims to provide full support to the government to improve New Zealand’s infrastructure, ensuring the government has the ‘backing of the sector.’ 

What does this all mean for New Zealand’s construction industry?

The construction industry could expect to see some positive regulatory changes, but it’s still uncertain at this stage. As it is, builders and workers are under pressure to meet deadlines and length approval processes. So, secure themselves and their projects is the best course of action to avoid any financial risks. 

Bonded NZ helps builders and contractors find the best insurance, warranties, and surety bonds that keep their best interests in mind. Whether it's a big or small project, our cost-effective options help them secure their projects at every angle. 

For more information about our services, contact our team today.

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