Happy New Year to the vibrant community of Helensville. As we step into 2024, I find myself compelled to share my thoughts on the real change in direction that the Coalition Government has already delivered and the optimistic atmosphere that has enveloped our great nation.
Firstly, let me express my gratitude to all those who worked tirelessly over the holiday period, especially those in retail, service stations, and hospitality. Your dedication and service did not go unnoticed, and we are thankful for your hard work.
As the ACT MP and Under-Secretary for Resource Management Reform and Infrastructure, I am excited to kick off a comprehensive work program aimed at simplifying the consenting and building processes. Kiwis, particularly those residing in Auckland, are well aware of the traffic bottlenecks and flood-prone areas on our roads. When scaled nationally, we are looking at a staggering $200 billion worth of infrastructure that needs building and renewal over the next thirty years.
One of the major challenges we face is how to fund and finance these essential projects, ranging from long-term maintenance to significant developments in public transport and roading. Drawing on my background as a civil engineer turned politician, I am uniquely positioned to spearhead policy development on infrastructure funding and financing tools.
These tools, including public-private partnerships, value capture, road tolls, leasebacks, and other innovative approaches, have already seen success in New Zealand and abroad. Addressing this issue is crucial to providing central and local governments with the capital and revenue streams necessary for delivering and sustaining infrastructure in a fair and equitable manner.
While infrastructure may seem like a distant concern for some, it plays a vital role in shaping our urban landscapes, facilitating housing, and fostering business growth. The ultimate goal is to make housing more affordable, offering Kiwis greater flexibility in choosing where to live and work.
Undoubtedly, the upcoming years will pose challenges as we grapple with aging infrastructure, surging housing demand, and a funding system struggling to keep pace. The commitment of the Government to replace the Resource Management Act (RMA) of 1991 with new laws centered on property rights marks a significant departure from the current “integrated management” system. This shift is essential to resolving conflicts between development and the environment effectively.
For far too long, New Zealanders have anticipated resource management reform that facilitates the efficient use of land and common resources for agriculture, housing, and essential infrastructure. The Government’s commitment to a clear vision, emphasizing better environmental outcomes and unlocking housing and business growth, sets the stage for a successful reform.
In essence, the overarching objective is to make the consenting and building processes more accessible, be it for large-scale projects or individual homes. The Government’s determination to streamline these processes aligns with the broader mission of making New Zealand a place where innovation and development can thrive.
As we progress through 2024, I am eager to share more updates on the advancements in resource management reform and infrastructure development. Let us embrace the positive changes taking place, collectively contributing to a brighter and more prosperous future for all Kiwis.
Simon Court. ACT MP, Under-Secretary for Resource Management Reform and Infrastructure.