Strong National Infrastructure Commission has tough task

The EMA says much is riding on the board and chief executive of the new National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) announced by Infrastructure Minister Hon. Shane Jones, with a difficult task ahead to deliver on its purpose.

Chief executive Brett O’Riley says in a media release that the EMA has been a long-time supporter of establishing the commission as New Zealand, like many other countries around the world, faces an infrastructure lag and a pressing need for large-scale infrastructure and associated sequencing, project timing and funding.

“Minister Jones has also championed the establishment of the commission and has pulled together a strong team with relevant experience, although with the legislation allowing for up to seven board members, there is scope to bring on another member with experience in construction delivery to fill an obvious gap.

“We see the NIC as a key to kick-starting a significant, well planned and consistent pipeline of infrastructure projects needed across a number of sectors in New Zealand. We need significant new infrastructure in water, transport, schools, hospitals and housing development to deliver improved results for the wellbeing of New Zealanders and support our people to play a positive part in our country’s future.”

It is pleasing to see the board and chief executive having a strong mix of private sector expertise and government experience as both local and central government play critical roles in funding infrastructure across the country, O’Riley says.

“We’re also pleased to see outgoing Infrastructure New Zealand CEO Stephen Selwood on the board as we have worked closely with Stephen on a number of projects and he has worked tirelessly towards the outcomes the commission seeks.”

O’Riley says the EMA shares the concerns of those in the infrastructure sector about the lack of forward projects in the infrastructure pipeline, with little on the horizon to follow the completion of projects such as Transmission Gully, the Manawatu Gorge and the extension to Auckland’s northern motorway.

“We hear about people laying off staff and not filling vacancies because there is no visible pipeline of new or promised projects emerging. The EMA has high hopes the commission can provide some certainty around this to encourage confidence for business in this sector.”

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