Australia

Australian Government releases consultation paper for $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility

AUSTRALIAN Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, Josh Frydenberg, last week announced the release of a consultation paper to seek feedback on the proposed design and operation of the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).

"Northern Australia contributes over 11 per cent of Australia's GDP. With 40 per cent of Australia's land mass, but only around five per cent of our population, it has enormous economic growth potential," Mr Frydenberg said in a statement.

Power lines
Above: Power lines / by Matti Frisk.

The NAIF is a key component of the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, which was released in June this year and sets out the government's development plan for the north.

Commencing in 2016-17, the NAIF will offer up to $5 billion in concessional loans over five years to encourage and complement investment in northern Australian infrastructure. The loans will be used to finance major economic projects such as airports, ports, roads, rail, energy, water and communications infrastructure.

"Importantly, the NAIF will not crowd out private investment, but will work in partnership with the private sector and the Northern Territory, Queensland, and Western Australia governments," Mr Frydenberg said.

The consultation paper outlines the proposed NAIF administration structure, noting that the government intends to appoint an independent statutory board to make investment decisions.

The paper also outlines draft NAIF eligibility criteria, including that:

  • Projects involve construction or enhancement of economic infrastructure;
  • Projects are of public benefit;
  • A project is unlikely to proceed or will proceed at a much later date without NAIF assistance;
  • NAIF finance will be able to be repaid;
  • NAIF loans should be for at least $50 million; and
  • NAIF finance must not exceed 50 per cent of total project debt, which in practice means projects will have a capital cost of more than $100 million.

"The NAIF has the potential to be a game changer for northern Australia, so it is important that it works as effectively as possible. With this in mind, I encourage all interested stakeholders to participate in the consultation process," Mr Frydenberg said.

More information is available from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science website at <http://www.industry.gov.au/naif>. Submissions on the consultation paper close on 30 November 2015.

Photo: 'Power lines' / Matti Frisk / Licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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