Plans to extend multi-billion dollar lending program
THE Multi-billion dollar Federal Government loan program designed to spur infrastructure development in Northern Australia will be extended for five extra years.
The Townsville Bulletin can reveal Northern Australia and Resources Minister Keith Pitt will today announce a major five-year extension of time for the $5bn Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).
Mr Pitt, due to make the announcement in Darwin today, also flagged "economy revitalising projects" involving gas, minerals and renewables as being "crucial" to Northern Australia's pandemic recovery.
The NAIF was set up in 2016, under the Abbott Government, to provide low-cost loans for infrastructure projects across northern Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.Due to expire in June 2021, only $2bn of the NAIF has been allocated to projects so far and even less money has flowed out of the purse.
It was revealed in March this year that 1.7 per cent, or $88.5m, of the NAIF's $5bn pool had flowed to projects in North Australia. Mr Pitt said the decision to extend the NAIF out to 2026 comes as part of a statutory review.
"This extension is the first step under the statutory review of the NAIF that aims to implement changes to enable a more flexible and faster approval process for proponents looking to access the facility," Minister Pitt said.
"Key to economic growth in the north will be capitalising on its comparative advantages in gas, critical minerals and renewable energy sources to support manufacturing and industry growth, and maximising the potential of the NAIF will be crucial in financing these economy revitalising projects.
"NAIF support can be crucial in catalysing private investment in the north during this important period of economic recovery when the private sector might be reluctant, or lack the resources, to invest."
The NAIF has approved eight projects in North Queensland, five of those in Townsville.
This includes the $96m James Cook University Technology Innovation Complex, another $46 million to JCU for new student accommodation and $20 million for the NQ Cowboys' Community and High Performance Centre.
Originally published as Plans to extend multi-billion dollar lending program