Legislation to establish a $5billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) in Cairns has been passed in Parliament.
The NAIF is an initiative outlined in the Northern Australia White Paper, which sets out the Government’s development plan to unlock economic and population growth opportunities across the north.
Contributing over 11 per cent of Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) and with 40 per cent of Australia’s land mass, northern Australia still only has five per cent of our population, highlighting its enormous economic growth potential.
Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, Josh Frydenberg, said the facility will provide financing to build the transport, energy, water and communications infrastructure needed in Australia’s north.
“This will create jobs, enhance investment, and unlock the full potential of this vibrant region to grow the northern Australian economy,” Mr Frydenberg said.
After detailed consideration and strong representations from the Member for Durack, Melissa Price, the Government has also extended the coverage of the facility.
The facility will now include the wider areas of Exmouth and Carnarvon and the local government shires of Meekatharra and Wiluna, in Western Australia.
Minister for Northern Australia, Senator Matthew Canavan said, “The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility continues the legacy of other great nation building initiatives that Australian governments had taken in the past, like the Snowy Mountains scheme and interstate railways.
“The Commonwealth Government, in partnership with state and territory governments and the private sector, has over our history done a lot to develop specific areas of our country and left a great legacy for future generations.
“The NAIF builds on this tradition. It will play an important part in providing basic infrastructure across northern Australia for new investment, creating more jobs,” Mr Canavan said.
The Government has also announced the independent board that will make the investment decisions for this facility and finalised the Investment Mandate by which investment decisions will be governed.
“We have chosen an outstanding board with extensive experience and expertise across a range of sectors and skills,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“They are also knowledgeable and passionate about the opportunities and challenges we face in developing Australia’s north and now, with the $5billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, they have an important opportunity to turn the Government’s vision into a reality.”
Ms Sharon Warburton (WA) has been appointed Chair designate of the board and from July 2016, she will be joined by:
- Mr Barry Coulter (NT)
- Mr Justin Mannolini (WA)
- Mr Khory McCormick (QLD)
- Dr Sally Pitkin (QLD)
- Mr Bill Shannon (QLD)
- Ms Karla Way-McPhail (QLD)
These board members bring a strong understanding of northern Australia along with extensive experience in their respective fields, including in infrastructure, government, finance, and the law.
Ms Warburton will immediately begin working with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation to identify a pipeline of potential projects to ensure decisions on project finance can be made following the establishment of the facility.
The board’s investment decisions will be governed by an Investment Mandate.
Following the release of a draft mandate for public comment in March 2016, consultation took place with more than 75 stakeholders, including financiers, project proponents, construction and infrastructure sector experts, Indigenous organisations, and the Queensland, Western Australian and Northern Territory Governments.
- The Investment Mandate will include the following criteria:
- The proposed project involves construction or enhancement of economic infrastructure
- The proposed project will be of public benefit
- The proposed project is unlikely to proceed, or will only proceed at a much later date, or with a limited scope, without financial assistance
- The proposed project is located in, or will have a significant benefit for northern Australia
- The Facility’s loan monies are not the majority source of debt funding
- The loan will be able to be repaid, or refinanced
- The project includes an Indigenous engagement strategy.
The proposed project is seeking financing from the Facility for an amount of $50 million or more
The project has been identified through a previous Commonwealth, State or Territory assessment process, pipeline, or priority list.