Tuesday, 29 September 2020

ACT will take the politics out of infrastructure

“ACT would take the politics out of infrastructure and get central and local government working together through long-term infrastructure partnerships,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“We need investment in high-quality infrastructure to boost jobs, wages and growth. But the current arrangements for delivering infrastructure are inadequate and the issue has become highly politicised.

“At the heart of the problem is a separation between planning, which is done at a local level, and infrastructure funding, where central government has the overwhelming majority of revenue. Central government can afford, but can’t plan, infrastructure, and local government can plan, but has little revenue.

“Governments have chosen where to build roads, bridges, and railway lines, based on political advantage rather than economic need, and changes of government every three years bring uncertainty and the risk that decisions will be reversed.

“The results can be seen in low productivity and wage growth and poor outcomes and high-profile failures in housing and transport. New Zealanders need greater certainty and consistency around infrastructure investment. We can and must do better.

“ACT would allow central and regional governments to establish 30-year infrastructure partnerships, devolving revenue and responsibility to regional governments and the private sector, while strengthening accountability and oversight from central government.

“In exchange for receiving infrastructure funding, regional governments will be required to meet high standards. Central government would monitor outcomes and future funding would be tied to performance against expectations. Rather than using infrastructure as a vote-buying exercise, decisions will made based on economic need, getting the biggest bang for our infrastructure buck.

“Central government would form partnerships with the existing councils in 10 regions. No new layer of government would be formed, but the councils in each region would be signatories to a regional partnership with central government. Councils and their residents would be able to decide which region to join.

“Regional infrastructure plans would be funded from a variety of sources, with the mix chosen to suit the project.

“From the point of view of central government, partnerships with the regions will become the one stop shop for infrastructure development. Rather than channelling money through various agencies and funds, all central government funds would be channelled through the partnerships.

“ACT’s commitment is to take the politics out of infrastructure, align the incentives of funders in central government and planners in local government, and make sure New Zealand infrastructure gets built in the long term with certainty.

“Solving our long-term infrastructure deficit will mean we allow the next generation to build homes which are connected to opportunities in employment and education by quality infrastructure. Taking these opportunities will solve one of New Zealand’s biggest problem: poor productivity.

“We can and must do better with infrastructure. ACT has a plan to ensure that, with central and local government working together, we’ll build the infrastructure New Zealand needs.”

The policy can be found here.