Infracom to focus on infrastructure outcomes

The Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga, (Infracom) is kicking off work to improve New Zealand’s infrastructure and lift the country’s long-term planning and capability, it says.

Infracom chair, Dr Alan Bollard says, in a media release, that there’s a big job to be done to establish the performance of infrastructure in sectors throughout the country – assessing their current state, resilience to emerging trends like climate change and the need for replacement.

“We really want to focus on outcomes and understand why some sectors perform better than others. We will gather information from territorial local authorities, government departments, Crown entities, State-owned enterprises and other infrastructure providers.”

Bollard says while there’s keen interest in improving the country’s physical infrastructure, Infracom’s role will also be to ensure New Zealanders make the most of what is already in place.

“That means we will be reviewing access and pricing regimes, and regulatory settings as well as infrastructure governance planning and delivery. New Zealand is unique in having wide rights around consenting, with big roles for tiny local authorities, let alone facing the global challenge of densification over urban spread, and support for regional economies,” he says.

Infracom will be commenting on reform of the Resource Management Act, infrastructure funding and financing, reform of three waters, the Auckland Light Rail proposal and the Urban Development Bill.

It has been requested by the Government to look at the port sector and provide an independent perspective on the UNISC proposal, identifying any system wide issues. It is also managing a wholesale review of the Public Private Partnership model.

Infracom will develop an infrastructure needs assessment using research and advice from subject matter experts, while identifying desired outcomes, to be agreed by late 2020. A discussion paper will be issued for wide consultation before developing a draft strategy by early-mid 2021 and a subsequent discussion paper on the final strategy in the second half of 2021.

The media release notes that Infracom was created to improve New Zealand’s infrastructure procurement and strategic planning. It was formed in late September 2019, and incorporates the former Treasury Infrastructure Transactions Unit. Together with stakeholders, Infracom will develop a 30-year infrastructure strategy and a quarterly pipeline of credible projects, committed to over the next 10 years.

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