Bishop gets serious on infrastructure funding

The Post reports:

In what will likely prove a controversial speech by Infrastructure minister Chris Bishop to Local Government New Zealand at the Public Trust Hall in Wellington last night, Bishop outlined a significant shake up of how infrastructure is paid for in New Zealand.

And it isn’t just in a speech. In a paper that went to Cabinet on “Improving Infrastructure and Financing”, obtained by The Post, Bishop spelled out the failures of the current financing arrangements and the Government’s new approach.

Between the cabinet paper and the speech, toll roads, congestion charging, public-private partnerships, water meters and GST-sharing for pro-housing councils could all be on the cards for the Government as part of a suite of changes to the way infrastructure is procured and paid for.

“Decades of underinvestment have left us with significant infrastructure needs that we cannot buy our way out of,” the cabinet paper said.

The cabinet paper paints a picture of underinvestment in a system where the life of assets is short because money that should have been spent on maintenance has effectively been siphoned off by councils and the Crown to spend on competing political priorities.

This is great stuff. The current funding system had led to an infrastructure deficit. We should have user pays for infrastructure such as roads and water. Great to see the Government unafraid of changing the status quo, as this is such a critical area to get right.

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