News Column

New Zealand Responds to International Freight Report

Dec. 12, 2012

New Zealand Government -- The Government agrees with the Productivity Commission that there are opportunities to lift the performance of the international freight system, and is taking action to make this happen, Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says.

The Government has today released its response to the New Zealand Productivity Commission's final report on international freight transport services.

"International trade is crucial for New Zealand's economic success.

"The Government's goal is to increase the ratio of exports to GDP by 10 percentage points to 40 per cent by 2025.

"Increasing the performance of international freight transport services will be an important part of achieving this goal," Mr Brownlee says.

"We'd like to thank the Commission for its thorough analysis of the factors influencing the cost and productivity of New Zealand's international freight transport services.

"The Commission's report identifies five key findings for improving the international freight system, which it considers would make the greatest difference to New Zealand's future economic performance and prosperity.

"The Government agrees with the Commission about the importance of these opportunities and intends to make progress against them all, working collaboratively with councils and industry."

The five key findings and the Government's actions on each are as follows:

1. Lift the quality of infrastructure planning and coordination

The Government intends to make more use of 'facilitated discussion' models of cooperation in coordinating investment planning. The New Zealand Transport Agency is currently initiating facilitated freight planning processes, which will include representatives from the Government, councils, freight producers, and transport operators.

The Government is also currently progressing reforms to improve the planning and coordination of infrastructure investment through the Better Local Government reform programme and phase two of the Resource Management Act reforms. The Commission has made a number of useful recommendations that will inform this work.

2. Better governance of ports and airports

The Government will work together with councils to clarify the objectives of port ownership, to better manage conflicts of interest, and to improve monitoring and information in order to support better decision making. Part of this work will be progressed through the Better Local Government reform programme.

3. Make competition regimes for freight more pro-competition

The Government is currently progressing the Commerce (Cartels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill, which is designed to encourage pro-competitive collaborations between businesses, while at the same time deterring anti-competitive cartel behaviour, by narrowing the exemptions from competition law.

As part of its consideration of this Bill, the Government has asked the Commerce Committee to consider whether the current industry-specific competition regimes for international shipping and air services are optimal, or whether a Commerce Act-only regime would be more efficient.

4. Build more productive workplaces at ports

Good workplace relationships between employers and employees are essential for developing high-productivity workplaces. The Government supports the proposed improvements to governance and information infrastructure, a number of which are for local authorities and port companies to consider. Recent changes to the Employment Relations Act have also been designed to encourage more productive employer and employee relations in all workplaces.

5. Develop a richer information infrastructure

The Government intends to develop more comprehensive systems for gathering and disseminating freight data in order to support better individual and co-ordinated decision-making, monitoring and policy development. In designing these systems, the Government will seek to minimise compliance costs imposed on the freight services sector.

Source: (C) 1994-2012 M2 Communications