Skip to content
Infrastructure blog

IPW: Australia’s productivity performance update, and New Zealand rolls out road maintenance plan

17 October 2023

In this week’s Infrastructure Policy Watch, reduced productivity in Australia, and New Zealand focuses on road renewal.

IPW: Australia’s productivity performance update, and New Zealand rolls out road maintenance plan
New Zealand Transport Agency announces plan to maintain its road infrastructure. Image credit: Shutterstock

Australia’s productivity falls due to increased hours worked

The Productivity Commission has released a bulletin, which outlined changes in Australia’s productivity over the last quarter.

The bulletin outlined that the high number of worked hours in June 2023 resulted in a 2% decrease in productivity.

The country’s low employment rate and high number of hours worked, particularly in infrastructure-related industries, resulted in the decrease.

The decrease was observed across 15 of 19 industries, with electricity, gas, water and waste services, and telecommunications contributing to a 1.4% drop in the total 2% reduction.

The Productivity Commission further outlined that an increase in hours worked is rooted in growing cost-of-living concerns.

Australians have been ‘running to a standstill’, as acting chair of the Productivity Commission, Alex Robson, pointed out.This means they need to work more hours to buy the same goods and services.

The ICE’s view:

Reducing the ‘productivity gap’ can save countries millions of pounds per year.

In Australia, engineering-related industries, such as construction, have already been identified as playing an integral role in improving productivity.

That said, other issues, such as cost-of-living, introduce other concerns.

The ICE State of the Nation Report 2022 outlines four key areas where effectiveness and efficiency can be improved to drive up productivity.

To further explore these issues in Australia, the ICE will release a paper outlining the complexities of improving productivity by the end of this year.

New Zealand’s summer maintenance project

The New Zealand Transport Agency has announced its summer programme to carry out maintenance.

Maintenance work will run until March 2024 and ensure smoother and safer rides overall, with the added benefit of reducing journey times for road users.

The decision to conduct maintenance during summer is due to the warmer weather, which is required for road renewals and re-sealing work.

Maintenance work includes the renewal of 120 single-lane roads in North Canterbury.

Most of the maintenance work will be carried out before mid-December.

To help road users plan their journeys during this period, an interactive travel planner has been set up to share live updates to road users on where work is being carried out.

The ICE’s view:

The ICE identifies the value of maintenance, where shifting away from expanding roads can help to achieve national needs and increase road useability.

Efforts to deliver much-needed maintenance through the New Zealand Transport Agency ensure investments in their 14 strategic transport projects can continue to deliver services throughout their lifetime.

Considering how transport assets need to be maintained forms part of the Enabling Better Infrastructure (EBI) programme, which encourages governments to consider maintenance requirements upfront and factor them into long-term planning.

This includes using digital tools to build public trust as developed by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

In case you missed it

  • Learn more about the five key takeaways from the UK’s second National Infrastructure Assessment.
  • Ever wondered why the ICE is the go-to expert for infrastructure policy?
  • Read more about HS2 at the Conservative Party Conference 2023.
  • New Zealand’s general election is a defining moment for its infrastructure. Read more.

Check back in a fortnight for the next edition of the ICE's Infrastructure Policy Watch.

You can also sign up to ICE Informs to get a monthly digest of the latest policy activities from ICE, including calls for evidence to support our ongoing advice to policymakers.

  • Dr Kerry Bobbins, head of Enabling Better Infrastructure programme at ICE