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IPW: New Zealand delivers more transport routes, and Australia targets construction productivity

22 August 2023

In this week’s Infrastructure Policy Watch, New Zealand focuses on transport, while Australia looks to improve future productivity.

IPW: New Zealand delivers more transport routes, and Australia targets construction productivity
New transport projects across New Zealand include rail, roads, tunnels, and more. Image credit: Shutterstock

New Zealand focuses on critical transport infrastructure priorities

The New Zealand government has announced 14 strategic transport projects to grow the economy, create jobs, and help businesses and households cut emissions.

The government views these projects as “critical” for the coming decades. The proposed routes “include a balanced mix of public transport and roads” complementing existing infrastructure.

The government promises the routes will work alongside ongoing support for cyclone-affected areas like Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay to provide a more certain pipeline for the construction industry and help reduce New Zealand’s existing infrastructure deficit.

The ICE’s view

Strategic infrastructure planning isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. These new transport projects across New Zealand will help drive economic growth.

The ICE’s November 2022 Presidential Roundtable with Te Waihanga / New Zealand Infrastructure Commission highlighted the need for a more secure pipeline of infrastructure projects to drive momentum. These 14 schemes will fill crucial transport gaps across New Zealand.

A long-term vision that transcends political cycles is integral to sustainable development. The ICE continues to promote long-term infrastructure planning.

We’ve set out to provide key decision-makers worldwide with the tools they need to do this successfully through the Enabling Better Infrastructure (EBI) programme.

Construction industry key to improving Australia’s productivity

The Australian Constructors Association (ACA) has released a new report outlining how supporting the construction industry is the key to improving productivity across all sectors.

ACA CEO Jon Davies said the call for increased productivity growth has never been more urgent and that “improving the efficiency of the construction industry is a matter of national importance”.

Infrastructure Australia reported last year that the combined public infrastructure pipeline has increased to an all-time record spend of AU$647 billion over five years.

During this time, labour shortages and construction costs have risen significantly.

Sydney Metro West, Melbourne Airport Rail Link, and Inland Rail were all cited by the ACA as projects that could all proceed as planned if the productivity issue were properly addressed through supporting the Australian construction sector.

ACA’s report, Nailing Construction Productivity, highlights that there’s no shortage of solutions available to drive construction productivity.

However, the sector’s ‘operating system’ requires a complete overhaul to realise future benefits.

This report outlines a plan to drive a step-change in construction productivity and proposes a national approach to reform through a national construction strategy.

The ICE’s view

Swings in demand for infrastructure affect productivity, which harms society.

As highlighted in the ICE’s 2022 State of the Nation report on improving infrastructure productivity, any effort to improve infrastructure productivity that’s concerned only with products and processes – and not the people using them – will fail.

Australia must continue to focus on investing in the future of the construction industry and its workforce through placing a greater emphasis on driving productivity.

The ICE will produce a piece of work on improving construction productivity in Australia later this year.

In case you missed it

  • ICE director of policy Chris Richards outlines why the ICE is the go-to expert in infrastructure policy.
  • ICE policy fellows Steve Lee and Duncan Symonds examine how the US and other countries plan to make the most of the economic benefits from the net zero transition.

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.

  • Laura Cunliffe-Hall, interim lead policy manager at ICE