Media release - New Zealand’s civil contractors have welcomed a new 30-year Infrastructure Strategy as ‘a new beginning’ and look forward to working to address the country’s massive infrastructure deficit with increased support, better planning, and targeted investment from government.
Civil Contractors New Zealand Chief Executive Alan Pollard welcomed the publication of Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa – New Zealand Infrastructure Strategy 2022–2052 released yesterday by the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission Te Waihanga, saying it provided vital vision and direction for the country’s infrastructure networks, framing challenges and solutions in a way that gave ‘much-needed clarity’.
“This national blueprint shows us how much work we have to do to get where we need to be, laying out the challenges and proposing solutions from an objective viewpoint, providing avenues for consensus and setting a coherent plan that can adapt to our future needs.”
Mr Pollard said the Strategy laid bare the huge task in bringing the country’s infrastructure up to date, with a massive construction worker shortfall projected to reach 118,500 by 2024 and construction costs rising 60 per cent faster than the rest of the economy.
As well as challenges, the Strategy also explored potential solutions and ways to work smarter, as opposed to simply spending more. Of particular significance was where spending would have the most positive effect.
Balancing the need to maintain existing infrastructure as well as build new was important, as was the need for government, support agencies and industry to partner on the implementation of the strategy, he said.
“We now have a shared direction we all need to get behind long-term. Not just infrastructure constructors, who have been aware of and working to resolve these challenges for some time, but Government, opposition parties, iwi, local government, and everyday Kiwis.”
Mr Pollard said these things applied on a massive scale such as through State Highways, major projects and urban centres; but they were just as relevant at the smaller scale of a community or individuals.
“We need to change our thinking about infrastructure. It’s important we consider more than just major projects, but also think of the road or public transport that takes us where we need to go, the pipe that brings water to our house, and the people that make the system work.”
The strategy calls for systemic change to better construct, support and maintain the essential infrastructure the country needs over coming decades, as well as the resource to maintain and support existing transport, water, energy, and other infrastructure networks.
The Government is required to respond to the 68 recommendations provided in the strategy by September. Mr Pollard said there were key investments required if the country was to step up to meet its infrastructure needs, and the first test would be the delivery of Budget 2022 on 19 May.