NAIF makes second investment
A fish farm has become just the second project to be offered a NAIF loan.
Lending rules for the Federal Government's $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) loan fund were relaxed last month, before which only one project had been approved.
Now, Humpty Doo Barramundi has been granted a $7 million loan to start an expansion that will increase its production of fish by 30 per cent per year.
The Federal Government has been under pressure to deliver on its pledge to develop the north.
“The NAIF does need to make loans, it's got a clear objective in the act to help stimulate economic and population growth in Northern Australia and I can only do that by making investments like this one today,” said Matt Canavan, the Federal Minister for Northern Australia.
“The NAIF has said publicly that they're hopeful of projects of just under $500 million by mid this year, and maybe around a billion dollars by the end of this year.
“That would help to put us basically on track.”
Mr Canavan says there is a “strong pipeline"” of new projects following the lending rule changes.
The NAIF is now allowed to fund 100 per cent of a project's total debt, and work with a wider definition of infrastructure, including supplies services and facilities.
But it is unclear whether the fund will be around for long the fund's long-term future.
“I think its just too early say what might happen in three of four years time, we'll have a review of the NAIF starting later this year,” Mr Canavan said.
The Northern Territory Government is planning to scrap its $200 million infrastructure fund because it has not funded any projects.
Minister Canavan denied that the Northern Territory is being pressured into lifting its fracking moratorium in the interests of development.
“It's not true to say that the Australian Government is not putting equivalent pressure, or equivalent persuasion on our state and territory colleagues to try and progress things,” he said.
NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said “there is no disunity in the caucus”, despite a majority of his fellow party members rejecting the push to open up fracking.