Saturday, July 13, 2024

8-week review to examine Public Works Act

The Government is modernising the Public Works Act to make it easier to build infrastructure, Minister for Land Information, Chris Penk, announced today.

An independent panel is set to undertake an eight-week review of the Act and advise on common sense changes to enable large scale public works to be built faster and cheaper, the Minister said.

“It is no secret that New Zealand faces an infrastructure deficit. Critical infrastructure projects like schools, roads, water services and energy projects have not kept pace with our nation’s needs.” 

“The result is congested roads, a shortage of housing, burst pipes and electricity blackouts. To improve the lives of all New Zealanders and rebuild the economy we need to make it easier to build major infrastructure projects.

“I expect the panel to conduct a short and sharp review and provide expert advice on changes to enable critical infrastructure to be delivered on time and under budget,” said Mr Penk. 

He said the Act plays a key role in the delivery of infrastructure projects, but had not been substantially amended since 1988.

“Users tell us it is outdated and, in certain key areas, no longer fit for purpose, meaning that some projects are delayed by up to half a decade before a shovel even hits the ground,” said Mr Penk.

“This adds time, cost, and uncertainty – for taxpayers, infrastructure planners, and landowners, all of whom may be in limbo for years. Every year millions of dollars are spent by government agencies litigating under the Act. 

“New Zealand currently ranks in the bottom 10% of high-income countries in terms of how much infrastructure we deliver for the cost. This is clearly the wrong kind of world leading.

“That’s why the Government is updating the Act as part of wider package of reforms to make it quicker and more efficient to build infrastructure.”

The independent advisory panel will be appointed by the Chief Executive of Land Information, the agency responsible for administering the Public Works Act. 

The legislation giving effect to these changes will be introduced in mid-2025. The public will then have an opportunity to provide feedback during the select committee process.

Cabinet has agreed for the eight-week review to focus on:

  • efficiency – improving process efficiency and removing unnecessary duplication;
  • effectiveness – legislation is workable, fit for purpose and realises the Crown’s ability to undertake public works;
  • clarity – providing transparency for those using and affected by PWA processes.

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