The ANAO report released today has confirmed the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility is a politically motivated waste of taxpayers money designed to funnel cash into projects like the Adani coal mine, the Greens say.
Greens Senator for Queensland Larissa Waters said the ANAO has found the NAIF lacks transparency and has made inconsistent decisions.
“The Greens have said NAIF was opaque from the word go. It has been a political exercise to appease the Nationals, rather than actually meeting the needs of northern Australians,” she said.
“NAIF was all set to pour taxpayer money into Adani’s proposed coal mine before the Queensland government vetoed it, and later a rival rail provider also pulled the plug on their application.
“If the Greens’ amendments to the NAIF legislation had received support from either major party, NAIF would have been prohibited from funding fossil fuel developments, and instead could focus on providing the clean, green infrastructrure that could help people in Northern Australia.
“The Auditor General’s report, commissioned at the recommendation of a Senate Inquiry which I initiated, found that NAIF’s assessment criteria are not transparent, assessment processes are inconsistent, and the CEO has too much power.
“Only a handful of projects considered by the NAIF have addressed an identified infrastructure need.
“NAIF is also operating in a secretive and underhanded way. They are not fully compliant with FOI processes. There are no minutes of weekly meetings with the Minister’s office. And some board members are using non-NAIF email accounts to conduct NAIF business, and further evading scrutiny in the process.”
The Greens want NAIF overhauled so it’s required to consider the Australian Government’s policy commitment to the Paris Agreement, the climate impacts of a project and to prohibit the NAIF from financing infrastructure which would facilitate the extraction, refinement, transportation or burning of thermal coal or gas.
Legislation should also be passed to ensure a suitable person test is added to the NAIF’s consideration of a project.
The recent decision by the government to further loosen already lax criteria for investment is not the solution and serve only to further demonstrate this government’s retrograde obsession with fossil fuels.