New independent Commission to tackle infrastructure issues

Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones has today announced the name, form and functions of New Zealand’s new independent infrastructure entity.

The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission – Te Waihanga – will be established as an Autonomous Crown Entity to carry out two broad functions – strategy and planning and procurement and delivery support.

“The new Commission will help ensure we are making the best decisions about infrastructure investment to improve the long-term economic performance and social wellbeing of our country,” Shane Jones said.

“The Commission will develop a broad consensus on long-term strategy, enable coordination of infrastructure planning and provide advice and best practice support to infrastructure initiatives.

“We want the Commission to be a well-respected public voice that has credibility among the private and public sector and helps integrate across our entire infrastructure system.

“A short-term, project specific focus by previous governments, along with under-investment, means that New Zealand is now facing an unprecedented infrastructure deficit that this Government is committed to tackling.  

“Our transport and urban infrastructure is struggling to keep up with population growth, increased demand and changing needs, including transitioning to a low emissions economy. New Zealand’s regional infrastructure is often not at a standard required by communities – this infrastructure deficit is manifesting in housing unaffordability, congestion, poor quality drinking water and lost productivity. That’s simply not good enough.

“Treasury estimates that net capital spending in the next five years will be more than double that of the previous five years with the Government investing about $42 billion through to 2022. With this level of investment, we want to make sure we take a longer-term view and make decisions that align with our priorities to build a productive, sustainable and inclusive economy and improve the wellbeing of all New Zealanders.

“We received nearly 130 submissions on what a new infrastructure body should look like. The overwhelming message was that it had enough independence from government to have credibility with private sector infrastructure owners, market participants and local government, while also having a close relationship with Ministers.

“We have heard that message, and we have delivered. Ministers will retain final decisions on infrastructure investments, but the Commission will have an independent board and the autonomy it needs to provide robust, impartial advice. It will help hold this government, and future governments, to account and we welcome that,” Shane Jones said.

Notes to editors:

  • The Cabinet Paper outlining these decisions can be found here along with nearly 130 submissions received during consultation on the new infrastructure body, and a summary of those submissions.
  • Legislation establishing the Commission is expected to be introduced in April. 
  • Subject to the legislative timetable, the aim is for the Commission to be operational from October this year.
  • Its procurement and delivery support functions are now being undertaken by the Infrastructure Transactions Unit, which was stood up in Treasury late last year. It will move into the Commission once it is established.
  • Cabinet had already approved $4.24 million to establish the body, including $3.392 million in 2018/19 to allow work to begin ahead of the new entity being established.
  • To complement the work the Unit is doing, a panel of experts are guiding Treasury in the establishment of the Commission, and in the shaping of advice on key issues. All the panel members have considerable standing and expertise in the infrastructure sector. 
  • Ministers will appoint a chairperson by mid-2019.