Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Question 6 Australian Planning Part 2

Describe how Australia and New Zealand may be converging in terms of infrastructure decision-making.


  1. Recent shifts in both New Zealand and Australia show convergence in their planning approaches to infrastructure.

    New Zealand's approach is typically based on public inclusion, and a reliance on governmental funding for the provision of infrastructure.

    Australia's approach often minimises public participation and utilises private investment (through public-private partnerships) to develop infrastructure.

    In NZ the 2009 Resource Management Act (primary planning legislation) was amended to streamline the consenting process for major infrastructure which aims to fast-track these projects(effectively reducing public participation). This hints at a shift toward an action-based planning culture similar to Australia.

    In New South Wales (Australia) there has been a proposal to improve the level of participation in strategic planning by amending the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (which is a primary planning legislation).

    These legislative shifts contribute to a perception that the planning cultures of NZ and AUS may be converging.

    Jarrod Colbert
    Student Id: 1506134

  2. New Zealand's RMA is ostensibly driven by an ethos of public consultation and devolved decision making, but the 2009 amendments represented a shift to streamlined and centralised decision making for nationally significant infrastructure. The key change was the establishment of the Environmental Protection Authority, a body charged with processing nationally significant proposals.

    Australia's planning system by contrast is historically marked by a proclivity towards state control and a relative lack of public participation, but recent amendments to New South Wales' Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 represent a shift towards more devolved and inclusive infrastructure decision making. Specifically, Part 3A of the Act has been amended to devolve more decision making power and increase transparency in the process.

    The traditionally opposing planning cultures of New Zealand and Australia are therefore converging - New Zealand is centralising, and Australia is becoming more participatory.

    Liam Winter - lwin027 - 1448827

  3. Australia’s planning system is characterised by strong state involvement, major private sector investment in infrastructure, and little public input. This has been very efficient in achieving large infrastructural, and urban development projects quickly, as public involvement tends to slow processes down. New Zealand’s system, on the other hand has historically focused on strong public involvement, with very little to no private investment in projects, therefore relying on government for funding. Hence, large infrastructure provision is commonly known to be tedious and slow.

    However, the Resource Management Amendments of 2009, simplified and streamlined the consenting process for major infrastructure projects of national significance, representing a planning culture more like that of Australia’s where large projects can be implemented quickly. In contrast, Australia is moving towards a more participatory system, with planning legislation such as the New South Wales Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 being amended to provide for more public participation.

    These are some key examples of step changes in Australia and New Zealand’s planning legislation in regards to infrastructure decision-making, which symbolise a convergence of the two systems.

    Anna Woodward. awoo112 1509343

  4. Charlotte Hamilton-Pama 1515604August 31, 2012 at 9:59 PM

    The recent reforms to both New Zealand and Australia’s infrastructure planning practices display some converging characteristics.

    New Zealand’s planning system has largely been founded on the need to consult with the public at various levels of a decision-making process. However the 2009 amendments to the RMA 1991 has presaged a change in this planning ethos. Whereby the decision making process is more centralised, and less regulated for nationally significant infrastructure project, in an attempt to streamline a traditionally tedious planning process.

    Planning in Australia however has conventionally been done at the state level thereby minimising public involvement within decision-making processes, but recent amendments and legislature enactments i.e. the Queensland Sustainable Planning Act 2009, is signifying a move towards are more devolved system. Where local and regional involvement is encouraged.

    Therefore it can be said that the once very different planning regimes (at either end of the planning spectrum) have become similar in nature due to recent legislative changes.

  5. There have been recent reforms in both New Zealand and Australian legislation which has led to a convergence in decisions made about infrastructure.

    The different cultural practises define the difference in planning practices undertaken in both nations. Infrastructure provision in New Zealand was once only a government responsibility, but now due to legislative reforms it is both a mixture of public, mixed and private sector bodies. New Zealand has taken this infrastructure provisions process further and this creates a unique infrastructure environment. However New Zealand’s infrastructure provisions is known to be slow due to the strong public participation, little private investment and a strong reliance on government funding.
    The 2009 amendments to the Resource Management Act 1991 resulted in a change in infrastructure planning for New Zealand. The amendment streamlined the consenting process for infrastructure provisions, and this has resulted in a convergence in infrastructure provisions between New Zealand and Australia.
    Australia’s infrastructure provision has less public involvement, strong involvement by the state and huge private sector investment. Due to the little public involvement, large infrastructure projects can be implemented quickly which is beneficial in terms of ‘getting things done’. However, due to the New South Wales Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 amendment, the public are becoming more involved in the infrastructure decision making processes. This slows down the implementation stage, but leads to more beneficial decisions for the public.

    Therefore due to legislative amendments in both Australia and New Zealand, the process for implementing infrastructure are becoming very closely linked, therefore a convergence in infrastructure decision is making is occurring.

    Craig Mathieson 1645513

  6. Traditionally the New Zealand planning system has been characterised by a culture of public inclusion and public consultation in regards to decision-making. This is not necessarily a bad thing but in some situations can draw out and confuse the planning process, too much input can steer a project to lose direction. Traditional New Zealand planning culture also does not look particularly favourably upon public-private partnerships in relatin to infrastructure projects so the public realm must provide the majority of investment.

    Australia on the other hand has often encouraged public-private partnerships as a useful means of gaining funding and creating business opportunities. Also, public consultation and participation has traditionally taken a back seat to efficiency in terms of Australian infrastructure projects.

    The contrasts between these two decision-making processes are clear, although in recent years similarities are beginning to be seen between the methods of Australia and New Zealand. An example of this is the 2009 amendments to the Resource Management Act in New Zealand for the purposes of 'streamlining', essentially trying to stop convolution of important projects through excessive consultation. Whereas in Australia there is growing concern for public consultation and more transparency in decision-making, shown by the New South Wales Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

    Naturally both methods of infrastructure decision-making have their merits and flaws. It would appear that both countries are beginning to recognise this and understand that it does not have to be a 'one or the other' kind of approach, rather benefits can be enjoyed from both with the right balance.

    Matthew Thomas Wackrow Youl, myou103, 1583666

  7. The convergence of Australian and New Zealand forms of decision making with regards to infrastructure can largely be attributed to legislative reforms.

    While New Zealand’s decision making process involves public consultation to a large degree, the 2009 reforms of the RMA, which aimed at streamlining decision making, has made this process more central. This is due to public consultation seen as slowing the process down, especially with regards to nationally significant projects. As such the Environmental Protection Authority was established through the amendments to speed the process up by centralising some regulatory roles (MFE, 2009). This reflects the Australian method in which state significant development decisions are mostly done centrally and through Ministers.

    While this shows an example of New Zealand’s convergence towards an Australian approach in decision making in being more central, Australia has also shown a shift towards New Zealand’s model of a higher degree of public participation. This can be seen through the New South Wales Government's ‘A New Planning System for New South Wales – Green Paper’ which aims to improve the level of public participation (New South Wales Department of Planning, 2012).

    Ministry for the Environment. (2009) Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Bill 2009. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 4th September 2012].

    New South Wales Department of Planning. (2012) A New Planning System for NSW. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 4th September 2012].

  8. The methods of infrastructure planning in Australia and New Zealand have always been slightly contrasting, in terms of the main principles and key stakeholders involved.

    Australian planning has traditionally been heavily regulated by the state. The privatisation of electricity, water and sewage, rail and motorways has occurred in various areas of the country over the years. During the same period however, New Zealand has shaped its infrastructure planning around the requirements of the Resource Management Act 1991. This has resulted in much emphasis placed on long term sustainability which required public consultation, an important but time consuming aspect of planning.

    In recent years there appears to have been a convergence of these two methods occurring in both countries. In Australia there has been a noticeable shift towards a more sustainable and citizen friendly approach, with the NSW Green Paper 2012 and the Queensland Sustainable Planning Act 2009 exemplifying this. In New Zealand, the Resource Management Amendment Act 2009 has outlined the importance of "simplifying and streamlining" in order to reduce the time period and costs involved with RMA decision making.

    Philip Brown, pbro820, 5971615

  9. In recent years, New Zealand and Australia appear to be converging in terms of planning approaches to infrastructure design.

    Australia's planning has typically been focussed on state control, however, there has been a noticeable shift toward facilitating public participation in the planning process since the New South Wales Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 amendment.

    New Zealand on the other hand has typically always involved public consultation during the planning process. Although public consultation has been positive in many ways, it has hindered the efficiency of planning decisions. Since the RMA 1991 Amendment in 2009, New Zealand has focused the planning process towards a more centralised approach in order to streamline the planning process. In projects such as the Christchurch Recovery Plan, this method has been very effective in facilitating action and decision making.

    acol137 1674285