High density housing around the country, transport infrastructure upgrades and more walkways and cycleways are among the "shovel-ready" projects that the Government wants to fast-track to kick-start the economic recovery.
The projects include the Auckland Harbour Bridge 'Skypath' - a cycleway and walkway between Westhaven and Akoranga in Auckland.
The 11 projects were announced today in the post-Cabinet press conference by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Environment Minister David Parker.
Ardern said today marked one week at alert level 1, and New Zealand's economy was now much more open than most other countries around the world.
Today marked the Ministry of Health's elimination day, meaning 28 days of no new cases since the last community transmission came out of isolation.
That case, a Ministry for Primary Industries worker who tested positive during target testing at the border, who went into isolation on April 30 and came out on May 18.
Ardern said there would be more Covid cases in the future, but hopefully they would only be at the border.
"I don't want New Zealanders to believe that the battle is over when it is not."
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Economic activity was now ramping up, and Ardern noted the rugby matches in Dunedin and Auckland this weekend.
She said the 11 projects could see up to 1200 jobs created and were selected because they were "ready to go".
New projects could create 1200 jobs
Ardern said the 11 projects could see up to 1200 jobs created and were chosen because they were "ready to go".
They came from a list of hundreds of projects that had been provided to the Government last month.
Parker said legislation to fast-track the 11 projects would be introduced to Parliament this week.
The Covid-19 Recovery (Fast-track) Bill would have a short select committee process and is expected to be reported back to the House at the end of the month.
The chosen projects were a response to concerns that the post-Covid recovery would be in the wrong direction, so a range of projects were included such as walkways and cycleways.
Last month the Government announced changes to the Resource Management Act to enable a faster consenting process for approving "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects.
The changes allow Parker to determine which projects can be fast-tracked, overseen by expert panels chaired by a current or retired Environmental Court judge or senior lawyer, and including relevant local councils and iwi representatives.
The panels will be able to greenlight a project within 25 days - rather than months or years - or up to 50 days for large-scale infrastructure.
Parker said positive environmental outcomes will not be sacrificed at the expense of speed, and environmental safeguards remain.
Individuals would not be able to make submissions to the panels, but their interests could be represented by groups that could make submissions.
The 11 projects named in the bill
• Kaikohe water storage facility – to provide water for agricultural and horticultural use and drinking water in Kaikohe. This project is expected to provide 70 jobs.
• Unitec – Phase 1 –
, 250 jobs.
• Te Pa Tahuna – Phase 1 – up to 180 residential units and retail space on an old school site in Queenstown - part of a wider development that aims to provide up to 300 high density dwellings. Up to 100 jobs.
• Papakāinga Network Development – the delivery of Papakainga across six sites; in Kaitaia, Pt Chevalier, Raglan, Waitara, Chatham Islands and Christchurch. This project will support the Government to provide up to 120 dwellings. It is being delivered by Māori developers with support from Te Puni Kōkiri. Will help retain and expand the existing workforce.
• Britomart East Upgrade – upgrades to Britomart station to ensure the City Rail Link project can operate at full capacity once services commence. 30 jobs.
• Papakura to Pukekohe electrification –
. This project aims to extend Auckland metro services south to Pukekohe providing South Auckland with increased lower emissions transport choice. This project is expected to create 85 jobs.
• Wellington Metro Upgrade programme – suite of smaller projects aimed at increasing the passenger and freight capacity of trains between Masterton, Levin and Wellington. Works will involve upgrading drainage, new tracks, upgrading stations, new storage yards, and the establishment and operation of a gravel extraction site. This project is expected to create 90 jobs.
• Picton Ferry Dock and Terminal upgrade – The project will improve rail services by expanding the docks and upgrading the passenger terminal. This project is expected to create 200 jobs. KiwiRail notes that the design of the new terminal takes into account 100 years of projected sea level rise.
• Northern Pathway – a cycleway and walkway between Westhaven and Akoranga in Auckland. This project aims to create a safe and usable active transport corridor for the North Shore and aims to increase the number of people cycling for commuting and recreation. Number of jobs expected to be 50.
• Papakura to Drury SH1 roading upgrade –
as well as constructing new walking and cycling facilities to improve highway access and safety. This project aims to respond to population growth and provide transport options for people in South Auckland. Up to 350 jobs.
• Te Ara Tūpuna – a cycleway and walkway between Petone and Ngauranga in Wellington. This project will improve the safety and usability of an existing cycleway and aims to increase the number of people cycling for commuting, recreation and tourism. This project is expected to create between 30 and 40 jobs and is an opportunity to strengthen existing sea walls and structures to make it more resilient to sea level rise and increased storm events.
Parker said these projects will be referred to Expert Consenting Panel once the bill has passed.
A second way for projects to be fast-tracked is for Parker, via Order in Council, to send them directly to an expert panel if deemed suitable.
He expected a "substantial" number of future projects would be processed in this way.
"We are looking forward to ideas from a range of people and organisations including district and regional councils, iwi authorities, NGO's and the private sector." Parker said.
The fast-track processes are likely to take 45 to 70 working days, much less than the usual resource-consent processes which take on average around four to six months to process.
Some transport projects are expected to be able to start one to two years sooner under the fast track measure, depending on conditions set by the panel.
A third way for fast-tracking projects is for the NZ Transport Agency and KiwiRail Holdings Ltd to undertake repair, maintenance and minor upgrade works on existing infrastructure in the road and rail corridor.
These projects would not require a resource consent, but would be subject to certain standards.
The fast-track law is a short term intervention that will self-repeal in two years.
"The current comprehensive review of the RMA, which I expect to release before the election, will set out proposals for long term reform to fix the issues that have plagued the resource management system for many years," Parker said.
"But until then, the RMA is still the main pathway for resource consenting for all other projects."
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Earlier today Labour released its 2020 list rankings – its lineup of which candidates would make it into Parliament if they don't win an electorate seat.
Infectious disease specialist Dr Ayesha Verrall, who was a go-to voice during Covid-19 pandemic, is almost certain to become an MP with a placing at 18.
Speaking to media today, she dismissed any concerns about her impartiality when making public comments about the Government's response to Covid-19.
Verrall said she made no public comments after she submitted her candidate application in May.
David Clark has been demoted from his 2017 list ranking from ninth to 17th.
But he has effectively kept the same ranking after he was demoted to the bottom rung of Cabinet for breaking the Covid lockdown rules when he took his family to the beach.