The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga supports the Government’s continued focus on infrastructure and the role it can play in a housing market that meets the needs of New Zealand.
Te Waihanga Chief Executive, Ross Copland says: "Infrastructure provision is crucial to unlocking housing supply, particularly in our fastest growing cities. There are a broad range of challenges faced by developers, councils and infrastructure providers which slow or prevent the development of land for new or higher density housing – funding constraints are often a factor so carefully targeted application of this new funding could play a useful role in increasing supply.
"A range of other important solutions will also help free up land for housing supply and make better use of our existing infrastructure. These include up-zoning land to allow greater housing density around public transport and better managing demand on our roads using tools like congestion prices so it’s easier for people to move around no matter where they live.”
Big infrastructure investments require significant resources and labour which are very constrained in some parts of New Zealand. Auckland, for example, has limited access to quarries which provide essential building materials for infrastructure. The acute shortage of rock, sand and gravel for building the houses, roads and pipes we need has persisted for well over a decade, but it is still extremely difficult, slow and costly to gain consent for a new quarry.
Resolving bottlenecks in the labour market will also be critical to ensuring this new investment can be delivered.
The extension of the apprenticeship scheme sounds promising, but we will need to make meaningful progress on closing the wage gap with Australia by boosting the productivity of the sector or there’s a risk we lose highly skilled workers across the Tasman.
Te Waihanga is currently developing the 30-year Infrastructure Strategy for New Zealand to provide a structured approach to addressing many of these issues and opportunities. It will be a valuable tool for the Government to guide investment decisions and policy responses to the big issues New Zealand will face over the next 30 years such as climate change, an ageing population and rapidly advancing technology.
As part of its strategy work, Te Waihanga has just launched Aoteoaroa 2050 – a survey which gives every kiwi the opportunity to tell us about the future you want for your kids and what Government should be focussing on. Take the survey here: https://www.aotearoa2050.infrastructure.govt.nz/(external link)