The creation of a New Zealand Infrastructure Commission by Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones is vital to address the country’s infrastructure crisis, according to the outgoing CEO of Infrastructure New Zealand, Stephen Selwood.
“Infrastructure New Zealand has been campaigning to have a commission for the best part of a decade,” he says.
Mr. Selwood, who is stepping down as CEO of Infrastructure NZ to take up the role of board member in the Infrastructure Commission, says it is important to help build political consensus and a long-term strategy for the country’s infrastructure. According to him, there has previously been a reluctance, politically, to create an independent body with such a role.
But Mr. Selwood says he was pleased to see bi-partisan support for the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission/Te Waihanga Bill when it had its first reading in Parliament in April.
“New Zealand needs to think more strategically about its infrastructure. We are decades behind in terms of where we should be. You only have to read the news to see we have an infrastructure crisis.”
“From the congestion on the country’s roads and problems with housing affordability, to water contamination and the need for new schools and hospitals. All of these issues will be the key issues the Infrastructure Commission will be looking at going forward,” Mr. Selwood added.
The legislation needed to be passed to create the Infrastructure Commission is still before Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee, but Minister Jones says he expects it to be passed by the end of next month.
“There is a hefty set of expectations that the Infrastructure Commission will address the planning, procurement and pipeline concerns people have and encourage a more efficient way of developing infrastructure.”
The Minister said the commission would help ensure the country makes the best decisions around infrastructure investment to improve the long-term economic performance and social wellbeing of New Zealand.