17 Aug 2018

New infrastructure agency proposed to improve planning, investment

5:11 pm on 17 August 2018

The government is proposing a new infrastructure agency in order to improve planning and investment.

Shane Jones

Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones said Treasury was unable to properly quantify the size of the country's infrastructure deficit.

Mr Jones said that when the Labour-led Government took office, it quickly became clear there was no plan for tackling the problems facing the sector.

He said Treasury did not hold accurate or up-to-date information about all projects across all sectors, and agencies themselves might not necessarily know the extent of their future capital needs.

Mr Jones made the announcement and comments at the Building Nations Symposium in Auckland today.

"This government has a firm eye on the future and not just the next few years. We're determined to improve economic performance, and social and environmental wellbeing for generations to come and getting on top of our infrastructure challenge is key," Mr Jones said.

"That means ensuring New Zealand can make the timely and quality investments in vital infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools, transport networks, water and electricity. And it means being open to innovative solutions to sourcing the capital we need," he said.

"We're already making a significant dent in our infrastructure deficit. Net capital spending in the next five years will be more than double that of the previous five years with the government investing about $42 billion through to 2022.

"This is a good start, but we need to do better over the long term and I'm confident the new infrastructure entity will help us really sharpen our planning for the future."

Mr Jones said he would report back to Cabinet early next year with options for the new agency, which he hoped would be operational by late next year.

The EMA was pleased its long time call for a comprehensive solution to how New Zealand invested in and delivered vital infrastructure projects had made a significant step forward today, chief executive Kim Campbell said.

"This has been a long time coming. We commend the Minister for taking the step to effectively create an agency which will have the mandate to pull together the long-term pipeline of our infrastructure needs.''

"Agencies such as these have worked well overseas. This is a vital component of building the vibrant and productive economy the government has stated it wants. Hopefully, this entity will be independent, future focused and empowered to make decisions which will take New Zealand forward and transcend the electoral cycle,'' Mr Campbell said.