Bay News column
Last week I spoke the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development “Building Nations” Symposium. My Transport portfolio especially has a large infrastructure focus, so this was a great opportunity to talk about what the Government is doing to support economic growth in this area.
Infrastructure is a key driver of the economy – it powers our homes and businesses, moves people and goods from A to B, and connects us with the rest of the world. A solid infrastructure platform also makes a significant difference in New Zealanders’ lives by ensuring high-quality social services like education and health are fit for purpose.
New Zealand has a good national infrastructure base, strengthened by significant investment in recent years. There has been a multi-billion dollar investment in transmission and lines infrastructure to ensure the security of our electricity supply and we have undertaken some of the largest roading projects this country has ever seen, such as the Waterview Connection in Auckland and, of course, our own Tauranga Eastern Link.
However we do face some challenges. Our schools are 42 years old on average, and parts of the water network are over 100 years old. An ageing and growing population will change our future infrastructure demands.
At the Symposium, Finance Minister Bill English launched the 2015 Thirty Year New Zealand Infrastructure Plan, which sets out the Government’s response to these infrastructure challenges.
The plan outlines 145 initiatives to strengthen how we look after our assets and improve understanding of what services the population needs so we deliver the right infrastructure programmes in the right areas.
The Government has $50 billion of forecast infrastructure expenditure over the next ten years. We owe it to you as taxpayers to ensure we get the best value we can from this spend, and I intend to deliver on that.