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Good progress on infrastructure but challenges remain

Good progress on infrastructure but challenges remain

There has been pleasing progress over the past year on a long term and challenging infrastructure programme, says National Infrastructure Advisory Board Chair Dr Rod Carr.

His comments follow the publication today of the 2013 National State of Infrastructure Report, prepared by the Treasury’s National Infrastructure Unit with input from across infrastructure sectors.

“Over the last year we have seen a continuation of the large scale investment programme across central government, local government and the private sector. The significant levels of spending reflect the importance that infrastructure plays in providing both a foundation and a catalyst for economic growth,” says Dr Carr.

“A year further into the implementation of the challenging work programme, we can see progress especially in the fundamental infrastructure networks such as fast broadband, electricity transmission and the key transport networks to move freight and people.

“It is also good to see improvements in areas that help deliver good infrastructure. These include streamlining the planning system, increased coordination within and across regions for infrastructure planning, and innovation and efficiencies being driven by local government in the roading sector. I’m particularly pleased by the ownership local authorities have assumed to increase capability and better understand infrastructure provision to their communities, especially in the water sector.

“Having said this, a number of the challenges we identified two years ago remain and it is important that we keep making inroads on these. In particular, we see potential for much greater alignment between the land use proposals in the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan, the integrated transport plan and the strategic vision of the Auckland Plan. Meanwhile, we welcome the government’s announced plan for investment in major Auckland transport projects and look forward to confirmation that the timing and mix of projects is well supported by business case analysis.

“Another area that needs further progress is water. It’s a strategic asset for New Zealand and essential to a significant portion of our exports. The freshwater programme is a good start, and it is imperative to deliver the subsequent work planned on allocation, transfer and trade: these need to drive the right incentives for the efficient use of this precious resource.

“The financial and economic significance of many transport and water projects, and the intergenerational effects they have, highlight the importance of robust investment analysis through the business case process and the importance of the right infrastructure, in the right place, at the right time.

“Across all infrastructure sectors, there is still work to do to ensure that infrastructure investments are subject to the right scrutiny and that they are aligned to broader goals and objectives.”

Dr Carr noted that over the next year, the National Infrastructure Advisory Board is looking forward to an increasingly mature discussion around demand management and ways to better use our existing infrastructure.

“Constantly looking to spend more is not an option in our foreseeable future and it is important that this discussion is had.

“Also next year, we look forward to the publication of the evidence base that the National Infrastructure Unit has been collating and the discussions across the infrastructure sector about what this means and how best to respond as a country to our future infrastructure needs. The 2011 National Infrastructure Plan highlighted the lack of a robust information base as a major constraint, and work has been underway to address this issue.”

Dr Carr noted the Board’s appreciation of the large number of infrastructure agencies and organisations involved in working with the National Infrastructure Unit in preparing the Report.


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