May 6, 2021

Keith Pitt NAIF veto a costly overstep

6 May 2021: Climate action group 350 Australia has said the Morrison Government’s opposition to renewables is costing jobs in North Queensland with Minister Pitt vetoing funding for a wind farm project on the Atherton Tablelands.

It was reported today that Minister for Northern Australia Keith Pitt used his veto power under the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) act to reject funding for a wind farm that the independent NAIF board had approved and would create 250 jobs.

350 Australia Senior Campaigner Shani Tager said: “The Morrison Government is determined to prop up the fossil fuel industry at any expense and today it has come at the cost of 250 clean energy jobs for North Queensland.

“This decision makes it crystal clear that when the Morrison Government says they’re “technology neutral” they mean they only support polluting fossil fuels like coal and gas, not clean energy.

“Minister Pitt has abused his power in vetoing this project and at the same time he’s pushing amendments through parliament to give himself even more power under the NAIF Act.

“Minster Pitt wants to co-opt the NAIF and use its remaining funds to finance dirty gas projects in the Northern Territory and he needs to be reined in.

“The NAIF should be used to fund projects that benefit Northern Australia, but we’ll just keep seeing more of Minister Pitt treating it as his own slush fund if he’s able to push his changes through parliament.


Background on Proposed Changes to the NAIF act

Minister Pitt introduced legislation to parliament in February that would:

  • Extend the life of the NAIF for 5 years
  • Add the Secretary of the Department to the NAIF Board;
  • Allow NAIF to loan directly to entities, bypassing state and territory governments;
  • Increase the risk appetite by allowing equity investments and acquisitions of derivatives;
  • Remove the mandatory requirement for infrastructure to stimulate population growth in Northern Australia.

The Government’s Beetaloo Strategic Basin Plan has stated the changes to the NAIF will provide more flexibility to deliver for the NT and northern Australia and to support Beetaloo infrastructure developments.