The Building Nations event hosted by Infrastructure New Zealand, held in Auckland is happening on Thursday and Friday this week. Here’s the agenda.
It was sold out months ago, at $2,000+ per head. It’s the peak event for construction and infrastructure funders including banks, global top-twenty constructors and utilities, top consultancies and construction lawyers and other service industries, officials galore from Ministries and public commercial entities, and of course politicians major and minor.
Phil Twyford is the keynote this morning. Sure, it’s one conference among many in a calendar. But it’s quite a gathering.
He laid out the challenge to them all: this government will wrestle with transport and real estate as one, towards rebuilding large parts of cities, at scale, on behalf of whole percentages of New Zealand’s deprived population. Has has specific governance machineries in mind to do it.
It is ambitious, organized, and about as risky as the state’s interventions get. The big question is how to spend the $28b effectively, efficiently, gaining as many policy multipliers as can be got.
There are implied rebukes in there of the “business confidence” foolishness.
No more than perhaps five Australasian firms can take this set of challenges on. It will need the Spanish, the Chinese, the Germans and the French to contest – as well as any local who can still lift a spade.
To give a sense of the challenges, at the NZTA light rail briefing last week, the room was packed with over 200 people representing the biggest and the best the world has to offer. But NZTA had little fresh to add, and are nowhere near a procurement process. Nor any sign yet of the mechanisms to integrate light rail with housing redevelopment into attractive deals. Ripe for an impatient interventionist Minister.
HLC (Housing Land Community) and HNZ (Housing New Zealand) are rocketing away with their redevelopment challenges. They will be coming out with a preferred decade-long alliance for civil works in the next few weeks.
Every era is different, every context needs fresh instruments and policies. It’s not the same as Michael Joesph Savage’s time.
But as ever in this country, the left succeeds for people when it corrals and teams the largest businesses to common ends. It’s now.
With these people around me here.
This government knows it will stand or fall on whether citizens get real dividends within one term from all this expenditure, all these deals. Once elected, that’s what you rise to.
Most in this conference room today will make fast money, and slow money, through boomtime and downturn. From what I see here, they can see it will be worth their while – if their risk machinery is sufficiently tuned, their capacity-engines gunned, their commercial partnerships trusting and profitable for many years. And … and … if this government lasts.
Phil Twyford is the Minister confronting, engaging and tilting the whole of NZ real estate capitalism. Apart from real estate brokers, that is the sum of what is here. Row upon row, this is the core of the useful business-government relationship.
Beyond redistribution, what this sixth Labour-led government can do is build.
To be honest it’s exciting as government gets.