Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) says this is the first time a consultation on the bill will take place because the bill is an amalgamation of two bills which have been developed, consulted upon and drafted going back to 2016/17.
The two bills were the Reticulated Services Bill and the Public Infrastructure Bill (which began with a Roads and Drainage Policy).
ICI said that in November, 2018, the drafters, Crown Law Office along with Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) agreed to integrate both bills into the current one.
ICI policy advisor, Alexander Henry said it was only right that this bill would be referred to the Parliament Select Committee for public consultation.
In summary the Bill:
-Ensures that the installation, operation and maintenance of infrastructure is coordinated efficiently, adopting a “dig once” principle.
-Clarifies roles and responsibilities among infrastructure managers.
-Recognises the legitimate expectations and rights of landowners and occupiers where infrastructure is laid on, over or under their land.
-Requires that all infrastructure (both public and private) is built to an appropriate standard to ensure resilience to the impacts of climate change, pressures of land use development and to ensure the safety of the public.
Henry said there is no existing act for infrastructure and the current environment of legislation has forms and functions relating to management of infrastructure spread over various outdated laws.
“So it was inevitable with the pressures from economic development and climate change a single act would be the way to go. Today, as an example, we have various definitions of “road” – this bill has integrated all of them into one definition,” Henry said.
The bill is expected to provide certainty, ensure best practice, offer guidance and assistance to landowners, service providers, infrastructure managers and the court. The bill assists government to fulfil a variety of policy obligations.
These would include:
-Ensuring State Owned Enterprises will look to deliver services to customers (the public) of the highest attainable standards.
-Ensuring that services are delivered in a manner that is financially, socially and environmentally sustainable.
-Effectively develop, schedule and manage all road maintenance, upgrading and capital works, following sound project management and asset management principles.
-Ensuring that effective and coordinated methods of managing the placement of services within road reserves or corridors by utility providers are in place.
-Improve ICT access to all citizens regardless of economic status, geographic location, education level, age or gender to improve opportunities for all.
-Promote and enable reliable, resilient, and secure ICT infrastructure.
-Increase resilience by strengthening national capacities for climate change, variability, adaptation and mitigation.
The stakeholders involved in putting this integrated bill together are ICI, To Tatou Vai, Te Aponga, Bluesky, CIIC, Crown Law Office and NZPCO.
Currently, the bill is in the hands of the Parliament Select Committee.
Consultations first took place at the Sinai Hall on Wednesday April 17.
The next two consultations are today at Calvary Hall in Arorangi and tomorrow (April 24) at the Muri Meeting House in Ngatangiia, both at 6pm.