Budget 2023: Government's $6 billion weather 'resilience plan' revealed by Finance Minister Grant Robertson

  • 18/05/2023

The Government says it's allocating another $6 billion as part of "building back better" from flash flooding that lashed New Zealand earlier this year.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the funds would cover initiatives including "future proofing road, rail and local infrastructure wiped out by the extreme weather, as well as telecommunications and electricity transmission infrastructure".

The North Island, particularly Hawke's Bay, Gisborne and Auckland, was devastated by Cyclone Gabrielle in February. Auckland was also hit hard by flash flooding in January.

"It was unacceptable that basic lifeline services like telecommunications, power and transport links were knocked out for so long," Robertson said of the weather events earlier this year. "It identified a serious basic infrastructure problem that this investment will help to fix.

"Addressing vulnerabilities in our infrastructure systems to function during adverse conditions and quickly recover after an event is fundamental to the wellbeing of communities."

The Government expected "to continue to build on the plan over many years" to reduce New Zealand's infratucture deficit, Robertson said in a statement.

"As indicated at Budget 2022, the change to a debt ceiling as part of the Government's fiscal strategy means we can use our balance sheet more effectively to support long-term productive investments, such as, this programme."

The package would deliver a new Crown "infratructure delivery agency", dubbed Rau Paenga, at a cost of $100 million, the Government said in the statement.

"Rau Paenga will use the lessons learnt in driving forward major Christchurch rebuild projects post-quake to help deliver construction projects," said Infrastructure Minister Megan Woods.

The Government had already allocated, in a pre-Budget announcement at the weekend, $1.1 billion to help communities recover from Cyclone Gabrielle and flooding.

"Being smarter about the way we plan, deliver and use infrastructure is critical if we are to meet the infrastructure deficit and deliver the infrastructure New Zealanders need now and into the future," Woods said.

Separately, the Government is spending millions on making New Zealand's transport network "more resilient to weather events and climate friendly" - coughing up $120 million for electric vehicle chargers and a $279 million State Highway package to focus on focus on "slip prevention, flood mitigation and managing risk of sea level rise", Transport Minister Michael Wood said.

The State Highway package would include "work on projects like slope stabilisation at various SH1 locations in Northland such as Long Hill, Saunders Rd and Kaiwaka, flood mitigation on the Auckland motorway network, and managing the risk of coastal inundation on SH6 at the top of the South Island", the Government said.