MR ENTSCH: (Leichhardt) (11:34): The $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility is a game changer for northern Australia.
The NAIF is partnering with the private sector and governments of northern jurisdictions to provide concessional loans to encourage and complement private sector investment in infrastructure that benefits northern Australia.
I have to concede there have been some teething problems.
However, to iron out these problems and to increase the flexibility of the NAIF and improve its potential to support projects in northern Australia, the government recently removed the debt cap, redefined eligibility of infrastructure proposals, removed the requirement to comprehensively test the market gap for finance and broadened the definition of ‘economic infrastructure’ in the investment mandate.
These have all been very, very positively received in the market.
However, the biggest impediment to the NAIF funding is the Queensland Labor government.
The Queensland government certainly has form in not wanting to engage with the federal government for the betterment of the state and its residents.
They are hell-bent on ensuring that projects in Queensland, including in my electorate, never get off the ground.
They’re more interested, unfortunately, in playing politics.
Essentially, they have made a conscious decision to put their own self-interest and that of their candidates ahead of every single Queenslander.
All you have to do is have a look at their decisions to veto the Adani loan to win votes in the south-east corner during the state election campaign.
The question that must be asked is: is the Queensland government actually engaged with the NAIF?
The answer, unfortunately, is no.
There are currently about 61 Queensland projects in the NAIF pipeline, including the Nullinga Dam project that would provide water security for generations to come.
Eight of these projects are in the due diligence stage.
However, not a single Queensland government owned or controlled corporation has put forward a single project for consideration, and I think this is very disappointing.
In fact, NAIF has identified 14 infrastructure project opportunities where there may be a potential for NAIF to consider co-funding assets procured by Queensland government owned corporations.
NAIF has previously written to Queensland Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad and previous state Treasurer Curtis Pitt regarding these opportunities.
Unfortunately, neither has bothered to reply.
To date, no proponents of these 14 identified projects have formally requested NAIF finance or provided detailed business case and financial information.
NAIF continues to express its interest in working with the Queensland government owned corporations and other relevant stakeholders.
Put simply, the Queensland Labor government doesn’t want to engage with NAIF.
The question is: why doesn’t it want to?
I suggest to you that it is not because the government is flush with money and does not need financial assistance.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
However, the state certainly has significant debt which is tipped to soar to about $83 billion in the next few years.
I do have a few questions I’d like to ask about projects in my area.
I mentioned the Nullinga Dam, but there are others as well, including the dredging of the Cairns inlet.
Could the minister advise the programs and funding that were being made available for water projects in the north?
How much money has the coalition government provided for water feasibility studies?
How many water feasibility studies are there?
How many have commenced and how many have been completed?
When are the remaining feasibility studies due to be completed?
How will water security assist us in the north? And what will the building of the Rookwood Weir mean for the people of Central Queensland?