Senate debates

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Questions without Notice

Northern Australia

2:49 pm

Photo of Nigel ScullionNigel Scullion (NT, Country Liberal Party, Minister for Indigenous Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

I thank Senator Canavan for his question and acknowledge his longstanding passion for developing one of Australia's most promising regions. As the senator is well aware, Northern Australia has huge untapped potential. It has an abundance of energy and resources and invaluable proximity to our key trading markets in Asia. The government is committed to partnering with the private sector to unlock this potential, creating jobs and growth right across Northern Australia. Last week, the Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia released the exposure draft of the enabling legislation for the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, which is a key part of the government's strategy for developing Northern Australia. The facility will provide concessional loans to build economic infrastructure in energy, water, transport and communications and will support the development of critical infrastructure in Northern Australia. It is expected to be on track by 1 July this year.

The draft legislation will see an independent board made up of financial and infrastructure experts across a range of projects. While decisions about funding of individual initiatives are obviously a matter for the board, recipient projects may include, to the delight of all Territorians and Queenslanders, the Mount Isa to Tennant Creek railway, the Townsville port expansion and the expansion of the Outback Way linking Western Australia with Queensland. We will also be encouraging Northern Australia by putting in place a range of services that will assist investors in their decision making. An office of the Major Projects Approval Agency has already been established in Darwin. It is co-located with the Office of North Australia, which has also recently been moved to Darwin by this government, delivering more jobs for this city that has so much potential. The government is absolutely committed to proceeding with its agenda for Northern Australia as an area not only with potential for development and industry but as a hub for innovation and scientific research.


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