Fund ‘ will de­liver’ NAIF a game changer for Townsville and North, says direc­tor

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - DOMANII CAMERON domanii. cameron@ news. com. au

NORTH Queens­land’s only mem­ber on the North­ern Aus­tralia In­fra­struc­ture Fa­cil­ity board has given a rare in­sight into its work­ings, with the former mayor con­fi­dent the fund will get projects off the ground.

Bill Shan­non, who was the Cas­sowary Coast Re­gional Coun­cil mayor for eight years un­til 2015, was ap­pointed to the NAIF board last year.

Mr Shan­non said the North’s tourism and agri­cul­tural sec­tors were set to flour­ish in years to come.

“I do be­lieve North Queens­land has a lot of po­ten­tial,” he said.

Mr Shan­non said he could not com­ment on in­di­vid­ual projects which had re­quested con­ces­sional loans through the $ 5 bil­lion fa­cil­ity, such as Adani’s Carmichael coal mine.

How­ever, he said that “with­out a doubt” he was con­fi­dent that NAIF could get ma­jor projects off the ground.

“I am very con­fi­dent that it will be a game- changer for North­ern Aus­tralia,” he said.

“T h e NAIF has a life of five years and if it’s suc­cess­ful, which I think it will be, I would like to think that it would be on­go­ing. Big projects at­tract other in­vest­ment.”

Mr Shan­non, who op­er­ates a cane and cat­tle prop­erty with his wife Suzanne at Bilyana, south of Tully, said he was pleased when the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment ap­proached him to take part on the board.

“The amount of time I put into it is sev­eral hours per week and even when there are no meet­ings on at all there is lots of cor­re­spon­dence,” he said.

“I’m not go­ing to say NAIF is the sil­ver bul­let but what’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing is NAIF just isn’t there to fund flash fa­cil­i­ties for North­ern Aus­tralia.

“The in­ter­est­ing thing about the board is that it’s very con­fi­dent and high pow­ered – we don’t take in­struc­tion from gov­ern­ment. There is no in­flu­ence on us what­so­ever.”

Mr Shan­non said the Townsville re­gion’s fu­ture was look­ing “ex­tremely pos­i­tive”.

“( I’ve been) talk­ing to busi­ness lead­ers, ( the) ports cor­po­ra­tion, coun­cil and the air­port,” he said. “There’s a lot of in­ter­est in get­ting things done in Townsville.

“The re­sources that we’ve got are quite ex­tra­or­di­nary.

“We’ve got to be care­ful we don’t de­stroy why peo­ple love it here, like the en­vi­ron­ment.

“And we have to give indige­nous peo­ple mean­ing­ful em­ploy­ment. ( There is) the chance to use the sig­nif­i­cant parcels of land and get­ting land ten­ure bet­ter sorted which is an ad­van­tage for indige­nous peo­ple.”

Pic­ture: EVAN MOR­GAN

TOWNSVILLE BOOST: OneS­teel NQ trad­ing man­ager Glenn Scoble.

Bill Shan­non.

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