Finance Minister Bill English calls his National Infrastructure Plan an important step towards better infrastructure management. “Even a small improvement in this area could reap gains worth billions – making our infrastructure dollars go further and ensuring a better return for taxpayers,” he says.
The multibillion-dollar sums sprinkled throughout the plan leave no doubt about the size of the commitment. Equally, the OECD’s view that investment in infrastructure, especially transport and communications, boosts long-term economic output more than other kinds of physical investment emphasises this is a road that must be travelled.
The Government, like its predecessor, does not seem sold on fixing this by adopting the bold option of build, own, operate, transfer (Boot) schemes, even though they have been widely used in Australia. The plan is not specific, talking only of PPPs expanding “the scope for innovation in design, construction and management of new assets”.
But it also pays attention to their potential downsides. These include the “reduced flexibility due to the long-term nature of the contract, and the cost that arises from unanticipated contract variations”. The latter can, of course, be mitigated by precise framing, so the private partner is in no doubt about the risk to itself.
Far more emphasis should have been placed on the advantages of PPPs at a time when, despite the squeeze on its finances, the Government is eyeing spending $8 billion to $9.6 billion on designated roads of national significance over the next decade. These pluses include not only the reduced cost to the Crown but the economic value of private investment decisions if they have to carry a fair share of the risk.
Transmission Gully would be a fine candidate for a PPP.
The Dom Post looks at waterfront democracy:
Democracy can be a messy, expensive and lengthy business, as Wellington City Council is finding as it tries to push ahead with its plans for the waterfront. It also provides the best chance of the public ending up with with something it finds acceptable.
Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast’s sense of frustration at the appeals against Variation 11 is palpable. In broad terms, Waterfront Watch and the Historic Places Trust believe the variation, which allows buildings under certain heights to go ahead on part of the waterfront without any public consultation, is not stringent enough, and will mean the loss of transparency in the process. Queens Wharf Holdings, on the other hand, believes the proposed restrictions are too stringent. …
Ms Prendergast hopes a solution can be found through mediation. That, based on past experience, is unlikely. The dispute over the proper role for the waterfront has dragged on too long and the positions are too entrenched to hope with any sense of realism for a negotiated settlement. Instead, it seems inevitable that both sides will remain in their trenches, lobbing legal grenades at each other. That is not ideal, but it is the price paid for having a democracy where everyone can have their say and test their case.
It’s ridicolous that after almost two decades we still have no agreed upon plan implemented for the waterfront.
The Press looks at the proposed driving changes:
Despite clear evidence that younger drivers are over-represented in crash statistics, successive governments had for too long placed the controversial issue of the driving age in the too-hard basket.
Finally the present administration has decided to act by accepting the recommendation in the Safer Journeys discussion document to raise the age to 16. And, in another welcome move, the Government has announced that there will be a zero-alcohol limit for drivers under 20. …
And the ODT also looks at the driving changes:
Tags: Dom Post, driving age, editorials, infrastructure, NZ Herald, ODT, PPPs, road safety, The Press, Wellington Waterfront
Fifteen is too young to be out and about on the road in cars.
Once, of course, cars in this country were a relatively expensive commodity, owned only after years of hard work and saving.
It might be surmised that a degree of maturity and good sense would have been inculcated in the individual in that time.
There were no cheap Japanese imports, the banks operated under much stricter lending criteria, and there were no such entities as finance companies as might be recognised today; certainly none especially designed to propel young men and women, barely past puberty, into the ownership of fast cars.