The Government is being accused of bypassing the built-for-purpose Infrastructure Commission when it comes to green-lighting of new shovel-ready Covid-19 projects.
Environment Minister David Parker this afternoon unveiled 11 infrastructure projects the Government is fast-tracking to help kick-start the economy.
They include the Auckland Habour Bridge "Skypath" cycle and walkway, the Kaikohe water storage facility and an upgrade to Picton's ferry dock.
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"Accelerating these projects will create opportunities for more employment and a boost to local economies," Parker said.
But the process behind these projects getting the nod has drawn criticism from National's infrastructure spokesman Chris Bishop.
Written Parliamentary questions to Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones reveal that Covid-19 related projects appear to have been done at an arms-length from the Infrastructure Commission.
That commission – set-up in September last year – is the one-stop-shop for infrastructure projects; dealing with delivery advice on projects and their planning.
But, according to answers from Jones, the Infrastructure Commission did not provide him with any advice regarding infrastructure projects relating to Covid-19 projects.
Bishop said it was "extraordinary".
"You have to wonder why they bothered to establish an expensive new bureaucracy when they've not bothered to talk to them.
"This is another example of incompetence by a government that simply can't deliver."
Speaking at post-Cab this afternoon, Parker said that the new fast-tracked projects were put forward by different Government agencies – NZTA and KiwiRail for example – rather than the Infrastructure Commission itself.
He said the Government was using the advice of the commission in respect of the roughly 1800 projects which are in various different stages of development.
He added that the commission would be involved in the second tranche of the Covid-19 fast-tracked projects.
Parker conceded that fast-tracking the process would deprive individuals of the right to make submissions on these specific projects.
But he said any concerns people may have can be raised at a specific, representative body.
Parker claimed that this was the right thing to do in extraordinary times.