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Byron Shire
April 22, 2024

$2 billion more for what, exactly?

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White elephants, anyone?

It’s still another week until parliament in Canberra comes back from its long winter break, which makes this a great time to revisit something that was rushed through the Senate with very little scrutiny on the last day of the last session, back in June.

The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, or NAIF, was originally established in 2016, by the Liberal-National coalition government, as a way of funding industrial projects in Northern Australia which couldn’t stand on their own as commercial propositions, but required taxpayer’s support. White elephants anyone?

Vulnerable to pork-barrelling on an epic scale, the NAIF was described by then-Labor leader Bill Shorten as an ‘abject failure’ in 2019. Last month, the Albanese Government boosted its budget from five to seven billion dollars.

Zali Steggall and the Greens attempted to modify the 2023 bill to increase the NAIF’s budget, by ruling out NAIF support for fossil fuel infrastructure projects, but this was over-ruled by the major parties, in spite of Labor’s suggestion that one of the supposed reasons for the NAIF’s existence, these days, is that Northern Australia is the geographic frontline for the worsening climate emergency.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Madeleine King. Wikipedia CC.

New NAIF?

Labor says the NAIF has changed, and that the organisation is looking beyond the usual LNP dream projects of mines and dams to instead help Indigenous people and invest in renewable energy projects.

The NAIF’s jurisdiction has grown under the current government, and now includes Indian Ocean territories and everywhere else north of the Tropic of Capricorn, as well as parts south, under special circumstances.

Madeleine King, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, stood in the House in June and talked about how the NAIF was helping pay for student accommodation in Townsville, the Batchelor solar farm in the NT and other economic infrastructure ‘to benefit Indigenous persons’, with only one line of her long speech getting to the main reason for the NAIF’s existence, which remains ‘to invest in critical minerals projects’.

Like each of her predecessors in the role, from whichever party, Minister King has proven herself to be a loyal friend of the fossil fuel industries, particularly gas, and particularly in Northern Australia.

With gas prices surging to historic highs due to the war in Ukraine, it’s hard to understand how the Albanese Government can justify financially supporting the exploitation of the Beetaloo Basin and the Middle Arm gas export terminal, even without considering the environmental aspects, but to do anything else would apparently be electoral suicide.

Member for Warringah Zali Steggall. Wikipedia CC.

ALP hypocrisy

Warringah MP Zali Steggall says that without safeguards, the NAIF risks being used primarily to prop up and invest in further fossil fuel infrastructure, which will lead to Australia drifting further from its climate commitments in Paris.

‘The NAIF should remain independent,’ she said. ‘It should invest only in clean technologies that are actually for the future of northern Australia.

‘Anything else would be irresponsible and would be public money wasted,’ said Ms Steggall.

When the NAIF budget bill came to the Senate, the Greens suggested similar amendments, seeking to ban the use of the NAIF to fund the extraction of coal or gas, build gas pipelines, or directly finance the logging of native forests.

All of these suggestions were over-ruled by the major parties, finding only 13 votes in support and 29 against. The intentions of the government for the NAIF could not be clearer.


David Lowe
David Lowe. Photo Tree Faerie.

Originally from Canberra, David Lowe is an award-winning film-maker, writer and photographer with particular interests in the environment and politics. He’s known for his campaigning work with Cloudcatcher Media.

Long ago, he did work experience in Parliament House with Mungo MacCallum.


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30 COMMENTS

  1. The Iron Boomerang project will ensure ‘Labor surpluses’ for the next century. No corporation will take the project on, as they know greenies would cause them to lose their investment, so the government will profit from it instead. All these ‘green’ follies across the landscape need to be funded somehow.

  2. Ah yes, the NAIF, again in the headlines.
    Why is it that the Fossil Fuellers ,enabled by the criminally Fossil Fuel loving LNP and ALP, always seem to think that the NAIF is there just for the Fossil Fuellers benefit.

    The former LNP Fed Govt wanted $’sNAIF 1billions to help their good mate Gautam Adani build his rail line from his Carmichael coalpit to Abbott Point coalport. The only hiccup was that Queensland’s Premier Annastacia had the last word on affairs and said, NO.
    No $’sNAIF were spent but the wily Gautam still managed to got his railway issue sorted and Voila, coal is being shipped off to India.

    Now the current ALP Govt is lining up for their shot at $’sNAIF with the Fossil Gas Industry licking its lips that their number 1 and number 2 cheerleaders, PM Albanese and Minister King, are ALL in for Big New Fossil Gas.
    And what a bonus it is that NT Chief Minister Fyles is also a Fossil Gas lover, yeah.
    Beetaloo and Middle Arm, b r i n g it on says the ALP.

    If Planet Earth must keep burning due to our promotion of continued Fossil Fuel burning, then that’s the price that just needs to be paid doing Business As Usual.
    Congratulations climate criminals CoAlbo and gasKing / ALP, its your turn holding the More Fossil Fuel tiller.

    • “ ALP, always seem to think that the NAIF is there just for the Fossil Fuellers benefit”. Where exactly does the report say this Joachim? It does suggest that the government resisted having some absolutes placed in the parameters – understandably.

      Tell me, do you think using catch cries like CoAlbo, Albatross and gasKing add strength or substance to you commentary. Inventive and hilarious as they may be, they just seem rather childish and desperate.

      Finally, couldn’t you manage to get Kathryn Campbell into this? You haven’t mentioned her for a couple of days!

      • Lizardbreath, you like the labels for the Fossil Fuel ALP Leadership, always happy to assist in outing our climate criminal governments.
        The LNP had their ScoalMO ( Morrison ) and AnGas ( Taylor ).
        The ALP getting their turn now. Of course it doesn’t have to be the Fossil Fuel ALP way, does it. But they’ve deliberately chosen that path and deserve all the criticism and ridicule that comes with it.
        It is the collective us that get saddled with the consequences of continued insanity of promoting of the Fossil Fuel Industry.

        Glad that you brought up the latest episode of, AlboFAIL, the ongoing Kathryn Campbell Affair.
        Kathryn Campbell resigns from a job that should never ever have been fast tracked for her by PM Albanese.- Jobs for Perps, is the Albanese / ALP way.
        Kathryn Campbell did what a clueless and hopeless Albanese wouldn’t do, took action.
        Lizardbretah, stayed tuned to the parliament’s crossbench getting an enquiry up and running into this whole Kathryn Campbell Affair – Senator Barbara Pocock and HoR Sophie Scamps are ploughing the ground to set up an enquiry into this grubby ALP affair.
        What was that promise from Albanese about restoring, “Integrity and transparency”, yes indeed, we can’t wait for that enquiry to get started.

        • Labels for whichever side are just as juvenile and just as devoid of contribution to discussion. “Integrity and transparency” – that’s exactly what was provided by calling for a RC and waiting for the report.

      • Mr Lizardbreath, when old mate Joachim gets caught out on one petty argument, he just moves onto another petty argument if he thinks he can squeeze a bit more mileage out of it, he is certainly one strange hombre.

        • Keith, Keith, Keith, my calling out of your ALP mob on their reckless action on climate and their hopeless actions on the Kathryn Campbell Affair. These important issues Keith, sadly needing constant calling out for you to see the light of your ALP’s errant ways.
          Keith stay in there, Keith stay strong, Keith keep coming back with….n o t h i n g.

          • Joachim my man, when one is confronted with n o t h i n g, one is compelled to respond with n o t h i n
            g.

          • Keith, the ALP issues raised, not even the stalwart ALP fanboy like yourself could scrape the bottom of the barrel with an attempted defence.
            But glad to see that you took up my tip of, “keep coming back with….n o t h i n g.” Lol.

      • Yes, Generation 4, SMR’s, Micro Nuclear..only problem none are commercially in operation.
        The much vaunted, by Dutton &co, SMR’s won’t happen this decade.

        Barrow, the nuclear ship is too late, solar, wind, hydro are here now and this current decade is the one that counts to reduce emissions if we won’t to avoid even worse climate catastrophe events than what we / the planet are already experiencing.

  3. Continued support for carbon intensive industries by the ALP government will lead to their demise at the next election as well, of course, further contibute to global over heating. Lose-lose situation for the nation.

    • Sheriff Australia’s contribution to Global warming
      Is 1.3 percent as Mr Finkel confirmed and you or anyone else can massage his factual comments
      all you like..or his was taken out of context..
      He stated !!! If Australia stopped as of today
      If wouldmake not one single bit of Difference to Global warming..Zero !! Even the IPPC have
      Secretly tried to suppress the very fact that
      No warming has happened this past 15 years..

      • Barrow, have you had a look at what’s happening in the other hemisphere right now?

        Let’s keep things simple. If I chuck my litter in the street it probably represents way less than 1.3% of total litter lying around – especially if everybody started doing it. Does that mean I should do it

        • Lizardbretah, the ALP need to have a look at Northern Hemisphere as well and reverse course on their madness of more and new fossil fuel adventures.

          • Joachim old son, the ALP is very aware on what is happening in the Northern hemisphere, actually most of the industrialised World is aware and is taking action, but that would never be enough to satisfy a World renowned Climate Warrior like yourself.

          • Keith, Keith, Keith, thank you so much for your compliment of, “a World renowned Climate Warrior like yourself.”
            I didn’t realise that I was having such an influence upon you, its great to read your acknowledgement. You can come over to the bright side as well, join the fight to defend our Mother Earth and save ourselves from the existential threat that we have created for ourselves.
            Keith, please contact your friends at ALP HQ, use your considerable influence there and wake them up to their insanity of boosting fossil fuel usage when we are living in and feeling the wrath of The Climate Emergency.
            Let us know how you go.

      • And once again – should we do nothing because:

        a) we are a bit player

        or

        b) because global warming is crap?

        Or are you having 2 Bob each way?

        • Step 1 – Point out their belief system is inconsistent with its self.
          Step 2 – Point out there is no angry sky ghost with a smoke allergy.

          • Christian, no need to sidetrack yourself chasing your sky ghost and smoke allergy.
            The smoke allergy is real down here at ground level; our National Bushfire Apocalypse 2019/20, Canada Bushfire Apocalypse 2023, Mediterranen Bushfire Apocalypse 2023; there’s plenty of that fire smoke to fire up the smoke allergy problems of populations.

      • Barrow, on Prof Finkel, you’ve cherry picked ( from RupertNews and his anti-RE parrots ) just one sentence from a broader piece of what Prof Finkel did say.
        So to be fair, please tell us the whole bit of what Prof Finkel said about Australia reducing emissions.

        • Joachim it is not Australia who needs to
          Do much at all to reduce Global warming..
          We as a nation have been the leading the way ..now not much is said about India
          Or China or Africa or Russia or Malaysia
          Yet poor old Australia trashed at every
          Turn ..not even the Frogs are meeting
          The Paris accord ..

          • Barrow, the world as a whole needs to deliver emissions reductions if the world wants to avoid existential threat. We’ve had our own fir ehell in 2019/20, the Norethen Hemispher is having their turn of fire hell right now.
            We have the annual COP’s for a reason but we aren’t getting the required emissions reductions. In fact the world is going backwards as atmospheric CO2 level keeps on rising and rising, that’s no surprise when New Fossil Fuel Adventures keep on being approved.

            Australia leading? By its own admission, the Fed ALP Govt says ( 1/12/2022 Climate Change Statement ) that it isn’t on track to meet its target of 43% emissions reduction by 2030; instead on track for a 40% reduction. Both of which fall well short of what the Science says ( 74% reduction by 2030 ) we need to be doing.
            Where Australia is the world leader is with rooftop solar systems and I can happily report that I am a rooftop solar home dude – began my home solar journey in February 2008.

  4. Joachim my man, I thought you would be impressed with gratuitous complements, so how is the “world renowned climate warrior” going with “world renowned climate warrior” things?

    • Keith, it is soooo very disappointing for me to now read that what I thought was your heart felt compliment was not genuine at all.
      Alas, it seems my education and information program and the mounting climate catastrophe events around the world hasn’t gotten through to you yet. So, more work ahead of me to be done, Keith.
      Keith, I’m staying in there. Keith, I’m staying strong. Keith, I’ll keep coming back with s o m e thing.

      Keith, we’ll get you coming over to the bright side, to the right side, to the side of taking action that The Science tells us that we need to do.
      Keith, that starts with voting out the LabLibNat FF Cartel and a Vote 1 for the Science = a Vote 1 Greens!

      • Joachim my man, you are never going to get it are you, judging by previous obstructive efforts by the Greens, only people with serious brain deficiencies and a serious desire to get nowhere vote for the Greens, but hey, stay strong LOL.

        • Keith, only a government with a brain deficiency keeps on opening up new gas wells and coal mines in a Climate Emergency.
          Stay strong denying the science, keep voting for the climate reckless and dangerous ALP, it will get us closer to the next climate catastrophe event and just maybe that will wake you up.

      • Joachim, I’d love to think of an Australia that would go even close to voting in a Greens government but then I fear they’d get the fright of their lives faced with the reality of how difficult being in government is. And being accountable rather than just making populist promises that everyone can have everything.

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