Transport and Infrastructure: comment from LGNZ’s President Lawrence Yule

A fit-for-purpose regime is necessary to achieve regional economic success. 

Last month I touched on the positive alliance between local government, central government and our private sector partners. Their support for the development of a partnership environment allows us to effectively lead New Zealand’s communities through changes together and helps us to achieve shared goals and build stronger, more resilient communities. It’s a powerful approach which we trust will bring beneficial outcomes for the nation.

September was a month of progress, development and growth. As part of LGNZ’s strategic priority to address regional economic development, we announced the results of our major transport study, Mobilising the Regions, which assessed the role of transport infrastructure in achieving economic success across the country.

Findings highlight the need for a proactive shared national approach to decision-making across the transport sector in order to lift economic performance throughout New Zealand. As a country we cannot afford to ignore this.

In response, LGNZ is calling for two outcomes: that transport decision-makers apply consistent criteria across all modes; and that local communities and regional leaders work with transport decision-makers to highlight regional priorities and impacts.

Achieving these outcomes will require partnership and coordination between local and central government, and, where possible, private sector operators across all transport modes.

The government’s release of its 30-year plan to improve New Zealand’s infrastructure continues the discussion on the important role of fit-for-purpose infrastructure in sustaining our country’s continued economic development and prosperity.

The plan builds on the three shared priorities announced at LGNZ’s conference in July, and agreed on following our recent Central and Local Government Forum: creating strong regional economies across all of New Zealand; resilient local infrastructure; and ensuring resilient communities nationwide.

It is pleasing to see local government fully integrated in the government’s infrastructure plan. Now we need to focus conversations with the government on putting in place a wider range of tools to fund future infrastructure requirements that underpin local, regional and national economic success – one of the key themes in our recently-published LGNZ Local Government Funding Review 10-point plan.

LGNZ has also launched a review of the resource management system, focusing on the ‘big questions’, options and solutions needed to develop a fit-for-purpose regime that works for New Zealand’s communities, businesses, regional economies and our nation’s environment.

The review, to be carried out over 12 months (with an early position paper to be released for discussion before December 25), is a key policy initiative for the sector.

We continue to see increasing financial strength for local government as shown by the latest Standard & Poor’s rating updates. See the ‘Final Word’ column on page 48 of this issue for more on that.

Finally, I attended the groundbreaking New Zealand China Mayoral Forum in Xiamen City on September 6-7, with the largest delegation of New Zealand civic leaders to have ever visited China.

The successful forum led by LGNZ explored innovative trade and investment opportunities with China’s local government leaders. As our biggest trading partner, our relationship with China is extremely important to our economy and our deepening connection at a sub-national level opens the door for further trade and investment.

Having an agreement with one of the world’s largest economies is another significant step in supporting LGNZ’s strategic priority of addressing regional economic growth.

This comment was first published in October’s NZ Local Government magazine.

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