LABOR’S plan to strip funds from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) for a separate “tourism fund” has been criticised for potentially limiting Commonwealth spending on the sector.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said tourism projects in Northern Australia already had $5 billion in loan funding available through NAIF.
“NAIF has $5 billion available for infrastructure projects in Northern Australia and, while it is obvious these funds are likely to be distributed across a number of sectors, tourism certainly has the potential to receive more than $1 billion.”
The Minister said 18 potential projects covering a wide range of tourism-related infrastructure currently were being considered by NAIF.
Minister Canavan also said it was clear that Labor’s so-called “tourism fund” would potentially reduce funding for Northern Australia.
“There’s every chance Labor would replace our spending on regional airports and road networks, for example, with funds stripped from NAIF, leading to less Commonwealth funding for Northern Australia overall.
“We saw how Labor wanted to strip away funding from dam projects in the federal election campaign in 2016. Labor wanted to cut the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund by more than $200 million.
“Labor’s focus will always be in the big southern cities, not in the regions and especially not in Northern Australia.
"For the Labor party, Northern Australia seems to be a nice place for southerners to come and visit. Yet we need a diverse economy up here that supports farms, mines, manufacturing and tourism. Labor is not backing all jobs in the north because they have sold out to the Greens.”