An ‘independent infrastructure entity’ for New Zealand

Published: 7 Sep 2018

By: Katie Black

Auckland marina and skyline

There are not many countries around the world which have created a comparable body to the National Infrastructure Commission, although many face similar challenges in incorporating long-term and evidence-based thinking into infrastructure decision making. New Zealand could be the next.

Infrastructure New Zealand, a membership organisation representing companies across the different infrastructure sectors, have been pushing for several years for the creation of an independent institution for New Zealand, combining different aspects of the roles held in the UK by the Commission and the Infrastructure and Projects Authority.

Following publication of the first National Infrastructure Assessment in July, the Commission was invited to send a representative to Auckland to speak at the annual Building Nations conference. I was delighted to attend this key event, a gathering of 700 people from both the public and private sectors to “progress thinking and advance best practice in national infrastructure development”.  The establishment of an independent advisory body on infrastructure for New Zealand quickly became a major theme, whether that was in speeches at the conference, my panel discussions with fellow speakers, or when meeting with other delegates.

One country which has embraced the concept of arms-length advisory bodies for infrastructure (or “i-bodies) is Australia. On the night before the conference, I was invited to a dinner with representatives of these different “i-bodies”, who I would be joining a panel discussion with following my speech. It was interesting to meet and compare notes with people from Infrastructure Australia, Infrastructure Victoria, Infrastructure Tasmania and Infrastructure New South Wales. These organisations all have slightly different remits (across strategy and delivery) and levels of independence.

On the first day of the conference, I was asked if I would do a television interview for Newshub Nation, a weekly current affairs show. The film crew came to the conference centre and interviewed me for about 20 minutes on the role of the Commission, 100% renewable energy for New Zealand and the implications of the rollout of electric vehicles.

The conference itself was very well run and my speech went without a hitch. I had been asked to cover what the Commission does, how we were set up and what we have achieved so far. The ensuing panel discussion then focussed on what a New Zealand “i-body” should look like if set up. People were interested in the nature of our relationship with government, the differences between us and the Infrastructure and Projects Authority and I was challenged on how delivery expertise feeds back through into strategy at the Commission. It was great to get an insight into the challenges and debates surrounding the future of infrastructure in a different country.

Most excitingly of all, at the start of the final session, Infrastructure minister Shane Jones appeared, to announce the formation of “an independent infrastructure entity” for New Zealand. The next step will be further work to determine the scope of this body and the actual independence it is given. We will follow the creation of another sister organisation for the Commission with interest.

Katie Black is Director of Policy at the National Infrastructure Commission

Share this article


Recent Articles

Coming up in 2022
Thumbtack pins in calendar concept for busy, appointment and meeting reminder

Coming up in 2022

This page shows a calendar reflecting the latest expected dates for Commission reports, publications and events. You can also sign up to receive our quarterly newsletter by entering your email address in the box at the very foot of our homepage; or sign up to receive updates specifically on the programme for the second National...

22 Feb 2022 By
Armitt on drought resilience: fixing leaks, reducing demand, building supply
Dry soil and patchy grass

Armitt on drought resilience: fixing leaks, reducing demand, building supply

In a comment piece for The Times’ Red Box, Commission Chair Sir John Armitt today sets out steps to help reduce the risk of future severe drought in England. The piece, reproduced below, argues for further action on identifying leaks, expanding water metering and reducing consumer demand, and building new supply and transfer infrastructure. Sir...

8 Aug 2022 By
Commission hears from Bristol about city’s infrastructure priorities
Bristol Civic Centre

Commission hears from Bristol about city’s infrastructure priorities

Friday last week (22 July) saw Commissioners in Bristol for our fourth regional visit of the summer, meeting the city’s Mayor and local leaders and businesses, and local residents, to understand the city’s infrastructure challenges. After a one-to-one meeting, Sir John Armitt and the Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees co-hosted a roundtable with representatives from...

25 Jul 2022 By
West Yorkshire leaders engage on region’s infrastructure goals
Leeds from the air

West Yorkshire leaders engage on region’s infrastructure goals

Yesterday (5 July) saw Commissioners up in Leeds for our third regional visit of the summer, meeting West Yorkshire leaders and businesses to better understand the city region’s infrastructure priorities. After a one-to-one meeting, Sir John Armitt and West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin co-hosted a roundtable with representatives from the combined authority, Leeds City Council,...

6 Jul 2022 By

Evidence_Icon_Turquoise Created with Sketch.

Explore data used in the Commission's research, and gain insights from across UK infrastructure

Join our team of professionals supporting the Commission to provide evidence based and forward thinking advice on infrastructure strategy.