New Zealand Government releases ‘The Infrastructure Action Plan’

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The Infrastructure Action Plan supports New Zealand Government’s response to Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa, the New Zealand Infrastructure Strategy. 

The New Zealand Government has released its Infrastructure Action Plan. The Action Plan supports the Government’s response to Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa, the New Zealand Infrastructure Strategy. 

The Government has a responsibility to maintain infrastructure and essential services at a level that grows wellbeing and is resilient to shocks and stresses. The first Infrastructure Strategy, Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa (the Strategy), marks a significant step to provide leadership, coordination, and oversight across the infrastructure system, and seeks contributions from many sectors.

This action plan is the second part of the Government’s Response. It demonstrates what the Government is doing and will do to turn this vision into reality over the next few years. It outlines the key work programmes the Government is progressing to meet the infrastructure deficit and be smarter about the way New Zealand plans, delivers, and uses infrastructure.

Te Waihanga will monitor and report on progress towards these actions and the objectives of the Strategy and continue to prepare updated infrastructure strategies every five years.

“As reflected in its response and Action Plan, the Government supports the overall direction of the New Zealand Infrastructure Strategy,” says Te Waihanga Chief Executive Ross Copland.

Delivering New Zealand’s infrastructure commitments

The Government already has a busy work programme underway, including investments and reform programmes, and changes to legislation, regulation, and other system settings, that will address many of the challenges outlined in the Strategy.

New Zealand’s infrastructure investments support wellbeing, equity, and the environment

Infrastructure is a foundation of wellbeing. Transport links and telecommunication networks connect New Zealand’s communities and economic systems.

The Government has a role to ensure all New Zealanders have access to infrastructure that enables their wellbeing, supports our economy, and protects the environment. In Budget 2023 we announced that over the next five years the Government will invest $71 billion primarily in transport, housing, health, defence, and education facilities. These investments will take us towards meeting the infrastructure deficit and improving the wellbeing outcomes of New Zealanders and our environment, but it is not enough. New Zealand needs to continue to increase both private and public spending on infrastructure.

The Government’s infrastructure investments are being delivered by several Crown departments and entities. Projects like the City Rail Link, Dunedin Hospital, and Kāinga Ora’s housing, urban and infrastructure developments are big parts of the programme that we will continue to progress with our investment partners. Delivery agencies will continue to work hard to make sure this investment programme is delivered well.

Progressing New Zealand’s existing workstreams

We have already taken serious steps to strengthen the infrastructure system and are progressing a series of large work programmes across various sectors to build on this. Below is a list of what New Zealand will continue to do for the existing workstreams.

  • Carry out the Construction Sector Transformation Plan

The Construction Sector Transformation Plan is focused on tackling the construction sector’s systemic challenges while building resilience across the industry. This plan includes actions to, among others, support the minimisation of waste, increase the capability and capacity of the workforce, and improve procurement activities and processes. It was launched in 2022, building on the success of the first Transformation Plan, and will be completed by 2025. For more detail, see the Construction Sector Accord website here.

  • Carry out the Emissions Reduction Plan

The Emissions Reduction Plan contains strategies, policies, and actions for achieving our first emissions budget and contributing to global efforts to limit temperature rise. A wide array of milestones in this plan will be reached over the coming years, and a new Emissions Reduction Plan will be published by 2024. For more detail, see the Ministry for the Environment website here.

  • Progress the Future of the Revenue System Programme

This programme takes a first-principles approach to the transport revenue system, initially focusing on broad questions such as ‘who should pay for what within the transport system’. This programme will lead to the implementation of a new or renewed transport revenue system by the end of the decade. For more detail, see the Ministry of Transport website here.

  • Immigration Rebalance

The Immigration Rebalance will make it easier to attract and hire high-skilled migrants that will fill genuine skills gaps. A key consideration of the Rebalance is to reduce pressures from rising numbers of lower skilled migrants. The introduction of the Green List in 2022 is a key part of the rebalance, and we will review its success in 2023. For more detail, see the Immigration New Zealand website here.

  • Implement the Minerals and Petroleum Resource Strategy

The Minerals and Petroleum Resource Strategy 2019-2029 has six action areas focussed on cementing a world-leading environmentally and socially responsible minerals and petroleum sector with affordable and secure resources. For more detail, see the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment website here.

  • Carry out the National Adaptation Plan

The National Adaptation Plan contains strategies, policies and actions that will help New Zealanders adapt to the changing climate and its effects so we can reduce the potential harm of climate change and seize the opportunities that arise.

  • Business as usual work programmes

The Government is responsible for a large property portfolio which includes schools, hospitals, state highways, correctional, justice and defence facilities, and social housing. As part of this enduring role, the agencies responsible for these portfolios have ongoing investment plans in place to deliver, manage and renew this infrastructure. For example, Te Rautaki Rawa Kura – The School Property Strategy 2030 sets the long-term direction for how we will manage school property to support all schools having quality learning environments by 2030, and the Defence Estate Regeneration Programme will renew our defence infrastructure so that we can continue to protect and enhance the security of New Zealanders.

  • Finalise the Future for Local Government Review
  • Implement the Digital Strategy for Aotearoa
  • Progress the Regulatory Framework Review Programme
  • Deliver the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy
  • Reform the Procurement System
  • Resource Management Reforms
  • Water Services Reform
  • Infrastructure Funding and Financing System
  • Implement the Aotearoa New Zealand Waste Strategy

New Zealand will get smarter about how they plan and deliver public infrastructure

A key message of the Strategy is that New Zealand needs to be smarter about the way they plan, deliver, and use infrastructure. This will mean getting more from the infrastructure New Zealand does build, reducing costs and prioritising for the greatest impact. The current system settings for investment management have robust foundations. The Government’s existing programme of reforms, strategies and plans is a strong beginning, and we will continue to tackle the drivers of higher costs, including:

  • Improving decisions taken at the front end of projects so they are set up to succeed
  • Improving procurement so it can deliver better outcomes
  • Broadening our understanding of management of risk and contingency, and
  • Incentivising lower cost, lower carbon, and more resilient solutions.

The Government’s primary focus is delivering its existing commitments well, but there are further opportunities to take steps in four focus areas. Below we highlight seven example actions the Government will take in these focus areas.

Ensuring that New Zealand’s infrastructure rebuild and new build is resilient in the face of climate change, natural disasters, and increasing extreme weather events

Auckland’s extreme flooding event and the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle across the north-east of New Zealand are a powerful reminder of the importance of resilience in the face of climate change, natural disasters, and extreme weather events.

As part of the Government’s longer-term strategic investment planning, we will have focus on ensuring our critical infrastructure is resilient to future shocks and stresses. We will also need to be smarter about where we build to ensure that new infrastructure is built in areas less susceptible to rising sea levels and other climate risks.

Highlighted Action 1

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) is leading work to enhance the resilience of Aotearoa New Zealand’s critical infrastructure. The DPMC will commence public consultation in 2023 on the adequacy of New Zealand’s current regulatory approach to delivering resilient critical infrastructure.

Highlighted Action 2

The Treasury is undertaking work to integrate consideration of climate risks and future adaptation into the guidance it publishes on investment management and state sector performance.

Strengthening infrastructure investment decision-making and governance

Clear principles on how and when to invest in infrastructure, and better information on cost and performance of similar investments will help ensure we select the best projects. Strategic planning can signal priority investments well in advance and will enable the construction sector to invest with confidence. Sound governance arrangements will ensure that projects progress well from the investment decision, through delivery and into operation.

Highlighted Action 3

Te Waihanga will work with the Treasury to develop an infrastructure priority list. This will support longer-term thinking and planning, provide more certainty for suppliers, and enable capacity to be established in the right places. We plan to develop and implement the list over the next three years.

Highlighted Action 4

The Treasury will review the Better Business Case framework and associated investment planning products. The Treasury plans to complete this review by the end of 2025.

Strengthening partnerships with, and opportunities for Māori, local government, and the private sector

Effective partnership lowers costs, improves delivery, and better aligns outcomes with local aspirations. Partnership also helps develop the skills, capability, and capacity of the workforce, encourage culture change and diversity in the wider infrastructure sector, and foster innovation.

Māori play many roles in the infrastructure system, from ownership to use. Local authorities have a significant role in ensuring that communities have access to the infrastructure they need to go about daily life. Without our private sector partners, the Government would not be able to deliver the investments that will benefit all New Zealanders.

Highlighted Action 5

Te Waihanga will build a State of Play of the ways the government engages with iwi and Māori on infrastructure projects. This will enable better transparency and coordination across the system so we can take a more strategic approach. Te Waihanga plans to release this State of Play in 2024.

Building the capacity and capability of the Government and of the infrastructure workforce to deliver and maintain infrastructure

If New Zealand is to deliver infrastructure investments well, we need a skilled workforce. This means we need enough people with the right skills and capabilities, in the right places, who have access to the training, guidance, support, and tools that they need.

Highlighted Action 6

Te Waihanga will work with the Public Service Commission to ensure development of leaders is aligned across the public sector, including on the option of a major projects leadership programme. We plan to assess these options in 2023 and make decisions on next steps by 2024.

Highlighted Action 7

The Government is repurposing Rau Paenga Limited (formerly Ōtākaro Limited) into a Central Crown Investment Delivery agency. The Rau Paenga Limited will provide ‘ready-to-go’ project teams to bolster agencies’ capability and capacity when they are delivering complex investments. The initial portfolio of projects will be finalised in 2023.

The Treasury will continue to develop guidance on investment planning and asset management to support agencies to build their capability to plan and deliver investments.

Actions

The New Zealand Government has a busy work programme underway that will address many of the challenges outlined in the Strategy. Within this work programme, 300 actions have been identified that will contribute to delivering on the Strategy’s recommendations.

Actions by sector

SectorNumber of Actions
Transport85
Building and Construction71
Cross-cutting62
Energy39
Waste29
Housing and Urban Growth17
Planning11
Digital9
Social6
Water2

74% of actions identified are already underway and 49 actions are due to complete by the end of 2023. 56 actions are expected to begin in 2023.

Te Waihanga is leading work on three of the Government’s highlighted actions that are aimed at achieving a step change in infrastructure planning and delivery. 

  • Working with Treasury and the sector to develop an infrastructure priority list that will support longer-term thinking and planning, provide more certainty for suppliers, and enable capacity to be established in the right places. 
  • Researching how government infrastructure providers and Māori engage, and work, with each other on the planning and development of infrastructure.
  • Working with the Public Service Commission to ensure the development of leaders is aligned across the public sector, including on the option of a major projects leadership programme.

“There’s a need to strengthen government as a sophisticated client of infrastructure when it comes to the planning, delivery and maintenance of our infrastructure networks, which all three of these actions will help address,” says Te Waihanga Chief Executive Ross Copland.

He adds that while it’s essential that the current work programme is delivered, proposed reforms will need to be well calibrated to bring about the transformation that’s required.  

“We know, for example, that a 50% improvement in resource consent processing times could be needed to meet our 2050 emissions target. And while many actions are already underway, the Strategy highlights that much more will be required to meet our infrastructure challenges,” says Te Waihanga Chief Executive Ross Copland.

“We urgently need to put in place the settings that will enable the infrastructure we need to deliver on our net-zero emission goals and support better use of existing infrastructure. Part of delivering well on current reforms means taking a long-term approach and allowing for different levels of growth so we don’t limit our future,” says Te Waihanga Chief Executive Ross Copland.

This Action Plan is part of the Government’s Response to New Zealand’s first Infrastructure Strategy. It lays out the direction we are moving and focuses on the actions we are taking right now. Though the work to progress many of these actions will happen in the short term, they will have a long-term impact. Large reforms will set our systems up for years to come and investing in capability development now will mean the future workforce will deliver more efficient and resilient infrastructure. New Zealand’s infrastructure will continue to grow our country’s well-being as we build, renew, and maintain more and better infrastructure and make improvements to the infrastructure system through policy, guidance, and support.

The Strategy set an ambitious vision for the country and needs contributions from all players in the infrastructure system. Local government, iwi and the private sector will all play a significant role. Te Waihanga will keep track of and report on the progress made towards the strategic objectives and themes of Strategy. In 2026, they will prepare the second Infrastructure Strategy, which will show how far we’ve come and what more we need to do.

Te Waihanga will lead reporting on progress against the Infrastructure Strategy recommendations and the Action Plan.  

“We will be working with the sector to ensure our parts of the Action Plan are achieved and the objectives of the New Zealand Infrastructure Strategy are realised. As part of that, we’ll be tracking progress on the recommendations and providing regular updates,” says Te Waihanga Chief Executive Ross Copland.

“Te Waihanga published New Zealand’s first Infrastructure Strategy last May. The Strategy serves as a map to address New Zealand’s infrastructure challenges. The Government’s Action Plan is an important step in achieving our infrastructure goals,” says Te Waihanga Chief Executive Ross Copland.

“But to address New Zealand’s infrastructure challenges we need to think wider than the central government’s Action Plan – no one sector can do it alone. Central and local government, iwi and the private sector will need to work together to build a legacy for future generations that we can be proud of,” says Te Waihanga Chief Executive Ross Copland.

Click here to see the timeframe, sector and programme the actions come from. It highlights the lead organisation or organisations delivering each action (page 17 onwards).

Click here to see the full He Whakakaupapa mō Te Hanganga o Aotearoa ‘New Zealand Infrastructure Action Plan.’

Source: © Crown Copyright | © 2023 New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga|

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