World Economy

NZ Ups Infrastructure Spending by $11b

NZ Ups Infrastructure Spending by $11b NZ Ups Infrastructure Spending by $11b

The New Zealand government's $11 billion infrastructure boost is making up for a failure to invest over nine years, Labor's finance spokesperson Grant Robertson said.

Finance Minister Steven Joyce Thursday promised to pump an extra $11 billion into new infrastructure over the next four years, spread across new schools, hospitals, housing, roads and railways, RNZ reported.

Robertson said the nation was trying to make up for the huge deficit in infrastructure spending it had built up. The country was tens of thousands of houses short of what was needed, and there was underinvestment in rail and rural roads. "We've seen nine years of them failing to invest in what we need to help our economy grow."

Roberston said population had grown significantly in that time and the government had not invested what it should have. Housing should get first call on extra money being put into new infrastructure, he said, and Labor would invest in this through its Kiwi-build program.

The government was fixated on roads, while public transport, rail and coastal shipping was also underfunded, he said.

Joyce denied the government had been under-spending or had underestimated the pressure of population growth and immigration. The increased spending was primarily driven by unexpectedly strong economic growth making New Zealand an attractive place to work and live.

New Zealand was growing at the one of the fastest rates of the developed world. "Nobody predicted that," said Joyce. "I think it's great. Instead of sending our kids out to Australia to work, they're coming back here to work.

That also created "some growing pains" but meant the country was getting increased tax revenue and could put more money into public services.

He said the government had already been increasing the infrastructure spend, which this year was $6.5 billion, and the announcement of new money would mean that level of spending would be maintained.

New Zealand first leader Winston Peters described the announcement as opportunism in a bid to get reelected. "There would have been either cries of outrage or laughter all over New Zealand when ... Steven Joyce said the nation's investment in roads, rail, broadband, schools, electricity transmission and hospitals had been unprecedented and 'we are increasing it further'.

Meanwhile, New Zealand posted a monthly trade surplus of NZ$332.00 million ($228 million) in March, data from Statistics New Zealand showed on Friday, while the annual deficit was NZ$3.67 billion. Exports totaled NZ$4.65 billion for the month while imports were NZ$4.31 billion.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints