Auditor General on our Infrastructure

Not a good situation


Earlier this week the Auditor General released a rather damning report against both our central and local governments about addressing infrastructure needs for New Zealand (not just Auckland). Now by infrastructure I am talking about physical which includes but often most forgotten until something goes wrong fresh water, waste water, and storm water.

This extract from Bob Dey:

Auditor-general issues blunt warning on infrastructure

Auditor-general Lyn Provost issued a blunt warning yesterday: New Zealand communities, in general, need to sharpen their information about & commitment to infrastructure or they will guarantee failure of services.

Mrs Provost warned that population shifts could make some communities unable to continue paying to maintain basic services such as sewers & water supply, while growth in others – such as Auckland – would need to match housing, working & services very carefully to avoid failure.

New Zealand’s economy for the past 200 years has been mostly about growth, although removal of some services such as post offices from rural towns, starting in the 1980s, was a warning about what might befall small communities.

Mrs Provost’s report, Water & roads: Funding & management challenges, was presented to Parliament yesterday, along with findings from research carried out by the NZ Institute of Economic Research that provides an historical perspective of local government investment trends, the forecast investment outlook and observations on differences in investment between regions.

The economic research showed infrastructure investment came in waves, creating investment “echoes”, and that large renewal cycles were pending.

Ironically, there’s been a tendency to underspend infrastructure budgets. Mrs Provost gave some explanation of this – that visible assets such as roads did need more frequent renewal than underground pipes. But, in short, her report can be summed up thus:

  • What you can see is politically sexier than what you can’t, but the infrastructure you can’t see is essential
  • Population shifts could make it impossible for shrinking communities to pay for continuing infrastructure maintenance.

Implicit in the report is a requirement to examine funding: Underground infrastructure is funded locally, roads & bridges nationally.


Source and full post:


The Auditor General’s Infrastructure Report can be seen below:


Further commentary on this at a subsequent podcast