The Federal Government will be asked to extend the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) by five years in a submission from Council outlining changes to improve accessibility to the funding stream.
Established in July 2016, the NAIF offered up to $5 billion (primarily in the form of loans) to be used to support infrastructure projects in northern Australia.
As of 24 October 2019, less than a third of the funds ($1.4 billion) have been approved, with $657.5 million for Far North Queensland. No projects have been approved in the Cairns LGA.
Currently, the NAIF must not make a decision to provide financial assistance after 30 June 2021.
The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has invited public submissions to inform a review regarding options for the future of the NAIF and the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Act 2016.
Council has made four policy reform recommendations to improve accessibility to NAIF:
- The time limit of 30 June 2021 for making investment decisions should be extended for a further 5 years.
- A provision made available to provide grant funding to those projects that deliver significant long-term public benefit beyond the initial construction stage.
- A provision should be made available to support investment in economic enabling infrastructure where full direct cost recovery from users is not a viable alternative.
- A provision made available to support strategic analysis and business case development for potential projects