Further NAIF reforms to free up investment options for the north
10 December 2020
Joint media release with Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt.
New Coalition Government reforms will allow the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) to commit up to half a billion dollars from its total budget to equity investments that will further speed up new job and economic opportunities throughout the north.
Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the removal of the ban on equity investment will increase NAIF’s capacity to actively support development in communities across the north as Australia deals with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister Pitt said the changes were on top of the reforms announced in the October Budget and were in line with the findings of the NAIF Statutory Review, which he released today.
“The changes will speed up the flow of funds to approved projects, give projects a greater range of debt-support options, and allow NAIF to make equity investments,” Minister Pitt said.
“The reforms will streamline the approval process for NAIF to decide the most appropriate financing option for each project, including debt guarantees and the purchase of bonds, without the need for each decision to seek multiple approvals.
“They also remove an existing ban on equity investments, allowing NAIF to take a non-controlling equity investment in a project.
“There will be an overall investment cap on equity of $500 million (10 per cent) from the NAIF’s total $5 billion investment fund.
“These new measures, together with reforms announced in the Budget, will transform the NAIF into a more proactive investor for the benefit of northern Australia,” Minister Pitt said.
Important NAIF changes already confirmed this year include:
- Extending the NAIF investment period by five years to 30 June 2026.
- Streamlining the approval process for the NAIF.
- Increasing the NAIF’s risk appetite to back more job creating projects.
- Collaborating with lending institutions to support smaller projects ($1m-$10m).
- The definition of public benefit to be simplified and expanded to include factors such as jobs, regional income, and opportunities for local suppliers (including Indigenous).
- Adjusting the NAIF board to ensure it has the right mix of skills and capabilities; including Indigenous development; and
- Appointing a Commonwealth representative to the NAIF Board to strengthen the NAIF’s strategic direction.
“The changes mean we can better use the expertise and stakeholder networks of the NAIF to support the Government’s agenda of economic development in northern Australia and to deliver on NAIF’s key objectives of growing the population, jobs and opportunities in regional communities in the north.” Minister Pitt said.
He said legislation on the reforms and those announced as part of the 2020-21 Budget would be introduced into Parliament early next year.
Assistant Minister for Northern Australia Michelle Landry said the Government had listened to stakeholder views put forward in the NAIF Statutory Review.
“The reforms, coupled with the October Budget measures, will make it easier and faster for suitable projects to access NAIF funds, and to get projects underway that will generate jobs and further develop Australia’s north,” Assistant Minister Landry said.
“NAIF has already made investment decisions worth $2.4 billion, supporting real jobs and development throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and building confidence in northern Australia as a great place to live, work, and do business.”
Further information the reforms, and the NAIF Statutory Review, are available on the Northern Australia website.
Minister Pitt's office 02 6277 7180
Assistant Minister Landry's office 02 6277 4283