Finance Minister Bill English is poised to announce an initiative to more closely align the Australian and New Zealand infrastructure markets.
At the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum in Sydney next week he will join forces with Australian Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison to unveil the Australia New Zealand Infrastructure Pipeline, or ANZIP.
The ANZIP will be an online portal for information about potential infrastructure projects across Australasia spanning central governments, local governments and the private sector.
"It's designed to further deepen the transtasman market for infrastructure procurement," explains English. "We've got niche providers and particular experience here even if we are a tenth of the size.
"We only need a handful of them to show an interest here and we've got a more competitive and productive market."
All projects listed in the ANZIP will be valued above $100 million. Most are yet to get under way or have got under way since 2015.
The Australasian pipeline initiative has come out of work led by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia; a public policy partnership between Australia's Federal and state governments, and the private sector.
It operates as a think tank on infrastructure market reform opportunities, as a source of data on the Australian market, and as a network and meeting place for senior practitioners from across the Australian national and global infrastructure markets.
English says he has had a good and positive long-term relationship with Infrastructure Partners Australia (IPA) going back to when Anthony Albanese was a Cabinet Minister. Albanese served both Australian Labor Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard as Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.
In his early years in the infrastructure portfolio, English was a frequent visitor to Australia to study measures taken there to build strong infrastructure.
"The pipeline has grown out of discussions between us," he notes. "The genesis of this was at a time when the mining industry was still going pretty well and we were trying to get some interest in New Zealand from Australian providers."
English says investment appetite has since grown as New Zealand has developed its Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) programme; the Christchurch Rebuild has got well down the track and the social housing programme has been stepped up. "We're certainly seeing that interest."
He also acknowledged the leadership by former IPA chairman Mark Birrell who is currently chairman of Infrastructure Australia and IPA chief executive Brendan Lyon.
"It's probably as much their idea as ours," he says. "But the IPA have done a fantastic job of leading it".
English says the PPPs that "we are starting to see across the country" are a good first step.
"More broadly across the country, it is important that infrastructure providers are able to utilise new types of financing and delivery models that promote innovation and responsible use of taxpayers' money."
A strong contingent of Australian infrastructure specialists will attend the "Building Nations" symposium hosted by the NZ Council for Infrastructure (NZCID) which gets under way in Auckland today.
At the domestic level, English suggests the lack of sizeable projects or staff capability continues to make it difficult for new delivery models to be implemented. He says the answer may lie in greater collaboration and shared services between local authorities and central government in order to deliver infrastructure at greater scale, which could enable all involved to more efficiently deliver new infrastructure and increase procurement capability. He wants to hear back from the market on the solutions they see to best address New Zealand's future challenges.
But he is heartened by the accommodation reached by Government and Auckland Council on the City Rail Link. "It's good to be in a position where everyone agrees that things should be built as indicated by the political consensus around Auckland Unitary Plan now the political pressure is to get more done faster."
"The way that Auckland Council has got their Unitary Plan over the line against the background of this widespread discussion of the need for more housing is a more positive environment for getting infrastructure done than we've had for a long time."
A further priority is to developing a toolkit to better manage existing infrastructure.
Collectively, central government is responsible for more than $250 billion of infrastructure assets, and local government has a further $120 billion of community assets on its balance sheets.
Maintaining and improving these assets requires billions of dollars of investment each year. LINZ, MBIE and Treasury are developing national metadata standards to capture, describe and store data to make informed decisions.
English says the metadata pro is really quite impressive. "What is impressive is that in a group that can be cranky and individualistic - that is engineers - there seems to be quite [a broad base] of consensus that this is the right thing to do.
"And that these standards could be made to work."