“A new report highlights the need for New Zealand to adopt ACT’s policy of using private enterprise and local knowledge to get its infrastructure up to speed,” says ACT’s Infrastructure spokesperson Simon Court.
“The New Zealand Initiative’s report ’Paving the Way: Learning from New Zealand’s Past to Build a Better Future’ looks at what has worked in New Zealand’s infrastructure history and what hasn’t. Unsurprisingly, it found that central planning doesn’t work.
“New Zealand’s limited, and parochial range of infrastructure ownership, funding, and financing has held the country back. Politicians’ pet projects like Auckland Light Rail get the green light, while other projects languish for lack of funding.
“If the Government and Councils can’t put it on their balance sheet and fund it from taxes and rates, it doesn’t happen. This has made us poorer as a nation.
“We need to stop being afraid of private funding and delivery, and embrace an approach that is used around the world to build modern, world-class infrastructure. ACT in government will do this.
“The report also laments the demise of the toll system, something ACT is proposing as a user-pays solution for big infrastructure projects. The Auckland Harbour Bridge is a great example of the benefits of tolling.
“New Zealand can either carry on declining or change how we work and do better. ACT’s policies to fund, finance, own and operate infrastructure include:
- Electronic Road Pricing, which is used around the world to manage demand and/ or fund new roads. It is the best and fastest way to ease congestion.
- Crown Infrastructure Companies: NZTA and Kiwirail are hamstrung by their government ownership and statutory provisions which limit their ability to invest. ACT would transform them into utilities more comparable to Chorus, regulated private networks required to provide a service to customers using the flexibility and discipline of a business.
- Local Government Infrastructure: ACT will make it easier for communities to create off-balance-sheet infrastructure special purpose vehicles (SPVs). The debt raised by these SPVs will be secured against the assets themselves.
- GST sharing: Government would share 50 per cent of the GST revenue raised from new residential construction in their region with councils so they could invest in infrastructure. Councils would be held accountable with 30-year infrastructure partnership agreements with the Infrastructure Commission.
- Foreign Direct Investment: Allow investors from friendly OECD countries to come to New Zealand and invest while fostering stronger trading links.
“ACT believes in better, longer-lasting solutions. New Zealand can’t be held hostage to central government’s infrastructure whims or the country’s infrastructure will remain frozen in time. We need real change.”