The Australian Government is amending the North Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) investment mandate after a review found it was too restrictive.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the changes would remove the 50 per cent cap on the proportion of a project that NAIF could finance and expand the types of infrastructure that will be eligible for NAIF finance..
The government’s amendments would increase the scheme’s flexibility and improve its potential to support projects in partnership with the private sector and northern jurisdictions, he said.
The action was based on the findings of an independent expert review of NAIF, undertaken by Tony Shepherd AO.
“Mr Shepherd consulted widely with NAIF, investors, project proponents and governments. He found the important need to develop the North still exists, but there have been challenges to making it happen,” Mr Canavan said.
“The government shares this view and we are committed to developing industry and job opportunities in Northern Australia.
“We will implement changes to the NAIF Investment Mandate recommended by the expert review, in response to a key finding that the NAIF’s Investment Mandate is too restrictive.”
Mr Canavan said there were 17 projects in the due diligence and execution phases – seven in the Northern Territory, five in Western Australia and five in Queensland.
“There are 90 active enquiries in the pipeline. These are from diverse sectors including energy generation and gas pipelines, transport, tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, water infrastructure and communications,” he said.
“The report commends NAIF for developing this pipeline but recommends that removing some of the restrictions on NAIF could assist in bringing projects to financial close.
“Notwithstanding the strong pipeline of projects, I recognise the challenges of finalising infrastructure investments in the North, given its smaller population base and the timeframes required to move infrastructure projects through the pipeline.”
North Queensland Senator Ian Macdonald said he was confident that many of the projects currently under consideration by the Board of NAIF would quickly be given the tick of approval once the changes were made.
“I am delighted at this announcement which I have been calling for for some time as it will mean that real money can flow to projects in the North,” he said.