Industry groups have put their concerns to paper and questioned Transport Minister David Parker over the delay of the draft 2024 Government Policy Statement on land transport.  

A joint letter from the heads of Civil Contractors NZ and Infrastructure New Zealand was sent last week, and a separate letter from Transporting New Zealand was sent earlier this week.  

More Waka Kotahi plans go off track as year comes to an end
The Government transport policy that gave officials a day to cost it on a Sunday

Parker said it was being worked on as a priority and would be completed by the end of August.

An August release would be three months after it was due, and five months later than when the previous draft statement for 2021 was released.  

Civil Contractors NZ chief executive Alan Pollard said the delay was difficult on the sector because it could not prepare. 

“The absence of a Government Policy Statement impacts the whole transport sector, including civil contractors, who carry out the physical works and need notice of the tasks ahead so they can plan to invest in equipment and skilled workers to construct and maintain the country’s transport network.” 

Infrastructure New Zealand chief executive Nick Leggett described it as “slippage”. 

“There is a need for certainty, and to me, it just feels like slippage. It doesn’t allow Waka Kotahi for instance to build its budgets, and decide its investment priority.  

“And it affects the wider sector and the contractors because the infrastructure sector actually requires a pipeline of work so it can plan its budget and its workforce, and it can build its capability regionally … and when you introduce uncertainty to that system, you introduce a degree of nervousness and uncertainty.” 

“To not signal certainty suggests to me that there’s a risk they just can’t put this together and if that’s the case, please just be honest about it.” – Nick Leggett

The statement sets out the Government’s priorities for land transport investment and directs how money from Waka Kotahi’s National Land Transport Fund is spent.  

Leggett said the delay would have a domino effect on local council’s plans as well. 

“Because they’ve got to build those regional transport plans and that’s also built off the [Government Policy Statement]. So everything moves further back, there’s just delays.

“We’ve got a workforce shortage in many places, we’ve got big cost blowouts because of inflation, and we’ve got massive weather events that have caused significant cost requirements … and then to not signal certainty suggests to me that there’s a risk they just can’t put this together and if that’s the case, please just be honest about it.” 

Transporting New Zealand interim chief executive Dom Kalasih had also told Parker it was vital the statement needed to come soon, adding it was also concerning the review of Road User Charges and work on the wider transport funding model had appeared to go quiet. 

“Several months ago we met with officials at the Ministry of Transport to discuss a review of the Road User Charges and to discuss the ministry’s thinking on the road funding system. 

“Alas we have not heard of any substantive progress on this matter.” 

The statement’s development has been affected by this year’s severe weather events. 

In February indicative priorities including a focus on urban development, safety and resilience were confirmed, but after Cyclone Gabrielle the Government signalled these would change.  

All industry groups recognised and acknowledged the impact of Cyclone Gabrielle in their letters to Parker, but remained concerned there had been no further indications of where the transport system was headed and no way to plan for it. 

Emma Hatton is a business reporter based in Wellington.

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