Infrastructure thinking must be long term

2 May 2022

LGNZ President Stuart Crosby says the new Infrastructure Strategy is an important step towards addressing the critical issues affecting our communities.

“Reliable infrastructure is the backbone to creating healthy, thriving communities and a resilient local economy.  

“Infrastructure such as roads, water pipes and buildings have a long lifespan but until now we haven’t taken a strategic approach to how we plan for develop, fund and maintain infrastructure.  

“The Strategy’s five objectives are underpinned by a strong focus on community wellbeing and climate change. We agree that these are the key issues.  

“For too long, we have been in ‘fix-it’ mode, rather than getting ahead of the challenges that our cities, towns and provinces face.  

“Issues such as sea level rise are confronting communities everyday. That’s why there’s a pressing need to look at the infrastructure system as a whole.  

“With the changes in the horizon such as the Three Waters Reform and the Resource Management Reform, there are plenty of opportunities to think and work differently. We can only make progress if local councils and central Government take a more joined up approach to decision making.  

“LGNZ is pleased to see that the Strategy acknowledges the need for significantly more investment and better funding and financing tools to deliver new and improvements to infrastructure that ratepayers expect. 

“The Future For Local Government(FFLG) review is the right platform to look at how councils are funded to lift investment in infrastructure to a level that meets the needs of all our communities.  

“The Strategy, however, has a limited focus on social infrastructure like our libraries, community hubs and greenspaces. Social infrastructure is really important to community wellbeing. With so many changes coming up, there’s a greater need for certainty around the infrastructure that promotes connections.  

“As the traditional roles and functions of councils change as part of FFLG, there’s an opportunity for councils to play an even bigger role in funding and enabling social infrastructure.  

“Ultimately, investment in infrastructure needs to be sustainable and enduring, as opposed to allowing funding issues to get caught up in politics of the day.”