23 September 2016

Policy Update – 23 September 2016

Our fortnightly policy updates keep you up-to-date with the industry.

Government and Auckland Council agree way forward for Auckland’s transport

Central government and Auckland Council have released a joint report which sets out a clear direction for the development of Auckland’s transport system over the next 30 years.

In a media release Finance Minister Bill English notes “Over the last 15 years, the Government and Auckland Council’s combined annual transport investment in Auckland has increased from $500 million to $2.1 billion. This has allowed us to keep pace with the challenges which have stemmed from strong population growth”.

However, with Auckland’s population set to grow by 700,000 people over the next 30 years, new and better infrastructure is needed to avoid congestion and meet Aucklanders’ needs. The Auckland Transport Alignment Project has developed a package of projects to illustrate the type and amount of investment likely to be needed over the next 30 years. The indicative package gives priority for additional funding over the next decade to:

  • New and upgraded roads to make land for housing available in the northwest, south and north
  • The first phase of the Northwestern Busway from Westgate to Te Atatu
  • Motorway improvements to address congestion and provide for ongoing growth in the northwest, south and southwest
  • Upgraded access to Auckland Airport from the east
  • Ongoing investment to improve Auckland’s rail network, including more electric trains and extending electrification to Pukekohe.

In addition, Transport Minister Simon Bridges notes technology has an important role to play in managing travel demand and reshaping “the way transport is provided and used”.

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New Youth Guarantee Scheme DualPathways released

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce and Education Minister Hekia Parata have announced the release of a new Youth Guarantee Secondary-Tertiary pilot programme, DualPathways. The scheme, which commences next year, will see participating students enrolled part-time in secondary school at Year 12 or 13 and part-time in either tertiary education or industry training.

According to the Ministers’ media release, some tertiary providers, industry training organisations and schools already collaborate in this way. For example, in Hamilton, around 30 Year 12 and 13 students from Fairfield College and Fraser High School spend two days a week taking part in mechanical and civil engineering courses at Wintec. During the other three weekdays, these students’ maths and physics school subjects are targeted towards engineering. At the end of 2016, participating students will have satisfied the necessary criteria to enrol in Wintec’s New Zealand Diploma in Engineering programme and be on track to complete the qualification in 2018.

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Electric vehicle charging infrastructure network growing

Last week was International Drive Electric week. To celebrate Transport Minister Simon Bridges opened new electric vehicle charging stations in Nelson, Thames and Auckland. According to the Minister, “New Zealand started with one public fast charging station, in Northland, in May 2014. Just over two years later we have more than 30 public fast charging stations and that number is growing by the week. More than 100 other charging stations have also opened up around the country.”

The Government has a goal of getting 64,000 electric vehicles on New Zealand roads by 2021. The Government has 14 initiatives in place to increase the uptake of electric vehicles. One of these is the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund which is now open for applications. The fund has up to $4 million available in 2016/17 and up to $6 million available in future years. The fund offers up to 50 per cent funding towards projects “that will demonstrate and showcase low emission vehicle technologies in high-profile, visible ways that will help to popularise these technologies, and to fund projects that can be implemented relatively quickly”, according to the Minister’s media release.

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Government signs contract authorising Rocket Lab launches

The Government has signed a contract authorising Rocket Lab to undertake space activities from New Zealand, according to Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce. According to the Minister’s media release Rocket Lab intends to start its launch operations from the Mahia Peninsula later this year. These operations will include the first commercial space launches from New Zealand.

The contract is an interim measure to allow Rocket Lab to commence launching rockets before the Bill establishing a regulatory regime comes into force.

The Minister notes “Rocket Lab’s leading role in developing a New Zealand space industry will provide opportunities for other entrepreneurs and businesses to realise spin-off benefits in a range of areas such as advanced materials for use in space applications.”

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