$3 billion sprinkled across 14 regions: Government's infrastructure spending plan revealed

The Government's $3 billion Budget 2020 infrastructure fund will be sprinkled across New Zealand with hundreds of millions of dollars in funding going to 14 regions, the highest amount going to Auckland. 

The investment package includes about $210 million for climate resilience and flood protection projects, $155 million for energy projects, about $180 million for large-scale construction projects and $50 million for enhanced regional digital connectivity.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said on Wednesday the overall package is expected to deliver more than 20,000 jobs across New Zealand and unlock investment with a project value of more than $5 billion. 

"This is about creating jobs as we recover and rebuild from the recession caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic... Building infrastructure is a key component of our economic recovery plan. It creates jobs and provides much-needed economic stimulus."

About $400 million has been set aside for a rainy day, and funds not required for that will be put towards further infrastructure projects providing an incentive for local councils to deliver the approved projects on time and on budget. 

How the funding is split:

  • $464 million for housing and urban development 
  • $460 million environmental projects
  • $670 million for community and social development
  • $708 million for transport, including cycleways, walkways, ports and roads

Where the funding will be spent:

  • $500 million for Auckland
  • $170 million for Bay of Plenty 
  • $300 million for Canterbury 
  • $106 million for East Coast
  • $130 million for Hawke's Bay
  • $140 million for Manawatu/Whanganui
  • $150 million for Northland
  • $260 million for Otago
  • $90 million for Southland
  • $85 million for Taranaki
  • $85 million for top of the South Island
  • $150 million for Waikato
  • $185 million for Wellington
  • $90 million for West Coast

The $3 billion to fund infrastructure in Budget 2020 was in addition to the Government's $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme announced in January.

The Government has provided some examples of the projects receiving funding, but further announcements on project details will be made over coming weeks. 

Around $22 million is going to the Auckland City Mission HomeGround redevelopment. An average of 80 workers will be on site during construction over the next 12 months with over 150 offsite personnel for the remainder of 2020 and into next year.

Around $55 million will go towards the development of Māori land and housing in the Bay of Plenty, around $15 million will contribute to the Christchurch Coastal Pathway, and $8 million to replace the Rugby Park Grandstand in East Coast. 

Other allocations include $20 million for the Whakatu Inland Port in Hawke's Bay, $20 million for Whangarei rejuvenation in Northland, $37 million for the New Plymouth Wastewater Treatment Plant, and $11 million to develop the Blenheim Art Gallery and Library. 

Invercargill will get $10 million for inner city development, $20 million will go towards developing Taupo town centre, $14 million will be spent on refurbishing the Wellington District Court, and a $7 million ports package for West Coast. 

Earlier this year, the Government established the independent Industry Reference Group (IRG), which was given the task of identifying projects to be progressed quickly. 

When Budget 2020 was unveiled in May, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones said ministers would "soon" decide which projects to progress and consider advice from the IRG which received a total of 1924 submissions with a combined value of $136 billion. 

Jones said the pipeline of projects would create immediate economic activity in the metropolitan centres as well as the regions.

National's economic development spokesperson Judith Collins has been critical of the time it's taken to get infrastructure projects up and running. 

Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford announced on April 1 he was on the hunt for shovel-ready projects that could get underway as soon as people could get back to work after the lockdown. 

"With an abundance of infrastructure needed, there seems to be no good reason why projects aren't underway already," Collins said earlier this month. "This is disappointing for the industry who are desperate to get to work."