The Australian Government is continuing to drive investment and economic growth in Northern Australia, by announcing the appointment of Ms Laurie Walker as the Cairns-based CEO of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF). Ms Walker will live and work in Cairns.
“Ms Laurie Walker is a senior executive with key leadership experience in banking and finance organisations including ANZ and the Commonwealth Bank,” Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said.
“She has a deep understanding of specialised lending and has a full range of experience including identifying investment opportunities, negotiation, completing due diligence and closing the deal.
“Ms Walker understands the challenges facing infrastructure investment and is committed to supporting economic growth across northern Australia. She will be based at the NAIF headquarters in Cairns but will work with stakeholders across the region.
“The Australian Government’s $5 billion investment in the NAIF is a game-changer that is providing the catalyst for new job creation and investment in the region.
“So far, the NAIF has received more than 70 enquiries about project funding. One project is undertaking due diligence and another 13 are working towards a formal investment proposal. These projects represent a total investment of over $10 billion.
“Not all will receive assistance, so I encourage others to bring forward their ideas for vital Northern Australia infrastructure projects.”
Minister Canavan will tonight present the Australian Government’s Annual Statement on Northern Australia, outlining the significant and ongoing progress to realise the enormous economic potential of northern Australia through the delivery of road, rail and water infrastructure.
“Already we have delivered 21 different measures to energise development of the north laid out in the Developing Northern Australia White Paper,” Minister Canavan said.
“This includes upgrading road, rail and remote airstrips and the expansion of business services, like the $13.6 million Northern Australia Tourism Initiative and the opening of a Major Projects Approval Agency office in Darwin.
“We have announced almost $500 million in investments to upgrade strategic road infrastructure, including sealing the Hann Highway, a critical part of the inland route from Cairns to Melbourne which provides an important alternative to the Bruce Highway, and further upgrading the Outback Way east west route.
“On top of the $1 billion commitment to help protect the Great Barrier Reef, the Australian Government has also announced over $920 million in additional funding for projects and investments across northern Australia that further build on the White Paper.
“While northern Australia is only 40 per cent of our landmass, it receives 60 per cent of national rainfall. The sheer volume of water in the north creates opportunities for growth in a challenging landscape, so we are progressing dam construction and 15 water feasibility evaluations across the region.”
Minister Canavan said the Government was spending $12.4 million on boosting biosecurity work across the region with 17 new Indigenous Ranger groups joining 40 existing groups.
“The north already punches above its economic weight, contributing almost 12 per cent of GDP, despite having only 5.5 per cent of the nation’s population.
“Our long-term vision and investments in the region will underwrite further economic growth to drive jobs, investment and expansion in the north, with flow on benefits to our national economy.”
Information about the Office of Northern Australia is available from: www.northernaustralia.gov.au/
And NAIF information is available at: http://www.industry.gov.au/industry/Northern-Australia-Infrastructure-Facility/Pages/default.aspx