The Federal Government has chosen Cairns to host the administration of its $5 billion loans scheme for developing northern Australia.
“This is all about regional development and it’s great that we’re bringing the kind of expertise and skills to a place like Cairns,” said Minister for Northern Australia Matt Canavan.
There were applications from multiple cities to host the North Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) office, but Senator Canavan said Cairns’s connectivity to Asian markets and domestic capitals was a key consideration.
“Our facility is going to be very much focused on attracting private investment from here, but also from overseas,” he said.
Legislation to establish the NAIF was introduced to Federal Parliament last week.
Senator Canavan’s aim is to see loans being rolled out from July 1 to assist with funding for infrastructure projects valued at more than $50 million.
“We are already assessing a pipeline of projects. There’s been around $20 billion of projects identified but it’s only a $5 billion fund,” he said.
The Cairns office is likely to have 10 staff, with the NAIF to be structured as part of the Government’s Export Finance and Insurance Corporation.
Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt has described the choice of Cairns as “good news” for the state.
“Queensland’s lobbying efforts have paid off. But now we must see real action on the legislation that makes the idea a reality,” he said.
Mr Pitt said passing the NAIF legislation needed to be a priority for the Turnbull Government before any potential double dissolution election.
“Queensland wants to see NAIF up and running. We should not have to wait more than 100 days before we know the fate of the NAIF bill. To read more at ABC Rural click here.
The Developing Northern Australia Conference Above the Line – unleashing the north’s potential will be held on 20-22 June 2016 at Darwin Convention Centre.
The Conference continues the dialogue started in 2015 following the release of the Australian Government’s White Paper on Developing Northern Australia. To register your attendance at the conference CLICK HERE. Early bird registrations close 6 May 2016, so be quick to receive a discounted rate.