Last night’s Senate Estimates revealed that the Morrison Government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) is still just the ‘No Actual Infrastructure Fund’.
It’s been six years since the NAIF was announced as the centrepiece of the Government’s Northern Australia agenda. Now, after five years in operation, the NAIF has still only released a measly $314 million of its $5 billion budget.
That’s only about six cents in the dollar, or $62.8 million per year, over the past five years. At this rate it will take nearly 80 years to release the full $5 billion promised to Northern Australia.
When you break it down by state, the NAIF has only released:
- $56.7 million in Queensland;
- $97.1 million in the Northern Territory, and;
- $159.9 million in Western Australia
In addition to these dismal figures, we also heard from the NAIF that they have still only approved finance for two First Nations-led projects, despite the large First Nations population and land ownership in our north. The combined figure for these two projects is $40 million or 1% of the NAIF’s budget.
These figures are unacceptable. It is another classic case of the Morrison Government making big promises that they don’t deliver.
Labor has been calling for big changes to the NAIF for years to get money out the door. It’s taken too long, but the Government has finally acted, with the House of Representatives passing NAIF amendments yesterday, with Labor’s support.
The last 18 months have been challenging for northern Australians, who’ve seen drought, fire, floods, trade embargoes and COVID-19.
In two days, parts of our north will bear the added brunt of JobKeeper coming to an end.
That is why it is more important than ever that we see real projects supporting real jobs in Northern Australia.
Northern Australia can’t spend another five years waiting on the Government to deliver what they promised in 2015, because so far the NAIF is just another example of the Morrison Government overpromising and under-delivering.