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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

Question No. 5—Infrastructure

5ANDREW BAYLY (National—Port Waikato) to the Minister for Infrastructure: How many shovel-ready infrastructure projects have not yet begun construction, and what is the total number of shovel-ready projects?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister for Infrastructure): As I have said to the member in previous replies on this question, we’re making good progress. The very latest I’m able to tell him in the House is that as at 31 March, 115 Infrastructure Industry Reference Group (IRG) projects have started construction. That’s an increase of 48 projects during the month of March. A total of 106 IRG projects have pre-construction work under way, such as consenting, design, and procurement, and there are 10 projects that are still undergoing due diligence or other contracting activity. The total number of IRG projects that have been approved is 231. I would note for the member that this has shifted around a little bit, as some larger programmes have been broken into smaller projects for ease of procurement and contracting.

Andrew Bayly: What is the Minister’s definition of “shovel-ready”, given that the large number of projects he listed a year ago as shovel-ready have no shovels in the ground?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: As we’ve discussed previously in the House, when this work was first undertaken, in April last year, the statement made in the Cabinet paper that’s been released was that projects should be ready to go or near ready to go within six months. By the time we came to finalise the projects, the construction environment was very different, the COVID environment was very different, Cabinet had progressed its thinking and 12 months was seen to be a more appropriate time frame.

Andrew Bayly: How many shovel-ready projects have been completed?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I would need to get back to the member on that, but all of the projects were significant projects that were required to be done in communities. The member shouldn’t concern himself too much with that number at this point, because the projects are contributing significantly to regional development, and will do so for some time.

Andrew Bayly: How many shovel-ready projects are not expected to proceed?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The only projects that are happening are the ones that have been contracted, and that is the 231 that I mentioned before. There may be more—as I’ve said, we’ve got the 10 projects that are still going through due diligence.

Andrew Bayly: Point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked the Minister how many shovel-ready projects are expected not to proceed. I don’t think he addressed that issue.

SPEAKER: The issue was certainly addressed.

Andrew Bayly: Does he anticipate, in his role as Minister for Infrastructure, receiving a letter from the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of the implementation unit regarding his failure to deliver shovel-ready projects?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: When the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Infrastructure commune, it’s a true meeting of minds. I’m sure, at some point, they will talk to one another. One of the things they might talk about are the excellent projects taking place in, for example, the Port Waikato electorate, where the Sunset Beach community hub and lifeguard facility projects are under way, the Lake Kimihia project is under way. What the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Infrastructure might discuss is the fact that the local member doesn’t seem to support these important community projects.