MP Bob Katter fears $5b northern Australia loan scheme to benefit rich foreign corporations
There is concern a new $5 billion concessional loan scheme to build infrastructure in northern Australia will bolster large corporate interests.
The Federal Government has released a consultation paper on its new Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).
From next year, NAIF will lend up to $5 billion over five years for major projects such as airports, rail, roads, power and water infrastructure, that will cost $100 million or more.
Under a draft plan out for consultation, potential developers would need at least $50 million to qualify for a loan.
The Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, said that would favour large foreign-owned companies.
“They will further widen their control of all these industries at the expense of our north Queensland farmers and they’ll be subsidised by the Federal Government,” he said.
“There is as much chance of raising $50 million in north Queensland, or Queensland for that matter, as flying to the moon.”
The Greens are concerned the NAIF could become a “slush fund” for big mining companies.
A Government spokesman said all projects would be subject to existing foreign investment and environmental regulations and an independent board would decide who received the loans.
Making taxpayer dollars go further
North Queensland Coalition Senator Ian Macdonald defended the scheme and said local and state governments could access money to develop the region.
Senator Macdonald said the initiative was aimed at making taxpayer dollars go further by encouraging private investment in public infrastructure projects.
“There are lots of different programs in the Northern Australian White Paper that will help smaller investors in smaller projects,” he said.
“This one, the $5 billion loan facility, is for major projects to stretch the taxpayers’ dollar further.”