A critical component in ensuring progress on Auckland's key infrastructrue projects will be the independent infrastructure body that is now on the drawing boards with a planned start date inlate 2019.
Treasury's Chris White updates the Herald on market reaction to the plan.
Herald: What has come out of the Treasury feedback?
White: We receivednearly 130 submissions froma range of people andorganisations. There was strong support for the establishment of a new independent infrastructure body and the proposed functions of the body. None of the submitters opposed the idea. Many submitters indicated that a step-change was neededinthe way infrastructure is currently planned anddelivered, in order to address historic under investment and improve outcomes for all New Zealanders. The new body's proposedstrategy and planning functions are essential to achieving this step-change, submitters argued. They felt the body needed to be independent enough to have credibility in the market, but also have a close enough relationship to government to provide trusted advice.
Transparency was seen as key to successfully achieving this balance. Attracting the right board and executive was also seen by submitters to be critical to success.
Herald: Will it be necessary to ensure cut-through for Auckland's major projects and project sequencing?
White: Overtime,thenew body's strategy and prioritisation of projects will help decision makers with sequencing, and the procurement delivery support function will improve procurement outcomes.
Ministers will still decide what gets funded and when.
Herald: How will it intersect with the planned Housing and Urban Development Authority?
White: The functions are different, though at a high level influence each other. The Housing and Urban Development Authority is a planning and delivery agency for major urban developments. HUDA will make decisions about where urban development (particularly housing) occurs, and where there is likely to be demand for infrastructure. The new body will set strategy and priorities for infrastructure ina broader context and for the whole of New Zealand. The two bodies are in differentdomains, but will inform each other.
Herald: How will the infrastructure body relate with Crown Infrastructure Partners and funding?
White: The new infrastructure body has a strategy and prioritisation role, whilst CIP is tasked with developing and implementing new alternative commercial models for financing bulk-housing infrastructure. This includes the ability for CIPto put equity funding into projects (following its allocation of $600 million), whereas the infrastructure body will not be directly investing into projects.
Chris White is Establishment Director, Infrastructure Body.