Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones says the “spectacular collapse” of Ebert Construction highlights the need for a more beefed up independent infrastructure agency within Government.
On Wednesday, the construction company was put into receivership; some “poorly performing” Auckland projects have been blamed for the company’s woes.
John Fisk, one of the PwC receivers, estimated Ebert owes roughly $40 million.
Speaking to media on Thursday, Jones says the Ebert saga is why such an agency is needed.
“Its importance has grown, given the spectacular collapse in the construction sector of both Ebert and the reduction in value of Fletchers.”
He says it might be time for the Government to “reset our procurement policies.”
“If we outsource so much of the liability in a contractual arrangement that it actually hobbles construction firms… then we are selling ourselves short.”
He says he has asked officials for advice about this.
Jones has previously spoken of such an agency needing to achieve “Charles Atlas-like proportions, with the right sort of financial and policy acumen.”
He travelled to Australia in April to assess how its Government deals with infrastructure projects.
He told Interest.co.nz he wanted to beef up Treasury’s existing Infrastructure Board and turn it into a “robust infrastructure agency.”
Jones says the unit’s job will be to provide high-level, top quality advice as well as finding and managing private sector investment into New Zealand’s infrastructure projects.
Before the Budget, he asked Treasury to prepare a paper, detailing options on what the infrastructure unit would look like.
“We’re working it through at the moment,” Jones says.
“It is a priority, but I can only go as fast as my colleagues and I find common ground.
“But there is a great deal of commonality and I’m fairly confident that we’ll be able to say something about it in short order.”