Last week Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones announced the creation of a new government infrastructure entity. It seems that much of the work this new entity will do is currently undertaken, poorly, by Treasury’s existing infrastructure unit.
A new independent entity will be established so New Zealand gets the quality infrastructure investment it needs to improve long-term economic performance and social wellbeing, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones has announced today.
Speaking at the annual Building Nations Symposium in Auckland, Shane Jones said the new entity would provide greater certainty to the industry and better advice to Ministers to ensure adequate, long-term planning and investment happens.
“When we first came into Government, it quickly became clear that we’re facing a major infrastructure deficit with no plan to tackle it. We’ve struggled to get a clear picture from officials of its scale, when it would hit us the worst and in which sectors.
“Treasury is currently unable to properly quantify the value of the deficit we’re facing – it doesn’t hold accurate or up-to-date information about all infrastructure projects across all sectors and advises that agencies themselves may not necessarily know the extent of their future capital needs.
“This is just not good enough. 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.
“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.
“We’ve listened to industry and local government – they need greater visibility of our infrastructure needs.
“This new entity will provide that certainty so we can make the right investments, in the right places and the right time.
“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.
“Treasury will now lead the development of the detailed policy working alongside key industries and I’ll report back to Cabinet early next year with options on how to structure the new organisation,” Shane Jones said.
It is anticipated the new infrastructure entity will be operational by late 2019.
This is probably a step in the right direction. It seems that Treasury focused far too much on trying to stop each and every project and not enough on developing strong systems to actually help good projects get built. Along with the Ministry of Transport, Treasury spent a great number of years trying to kill off the City Rail Link, and rumour is that Treasury is still trying to undermine light-rail (apparently putting their hopes on new bus technology that doesn’t yet exist).
More than a year to set up the entity does seem quite long. The new Ministry of Housing and Urban Development was only announced in June and will be operational by October this year.