While northern Australia has a population of only 1.2 million, it makes up almost half the nation’s land mass and generates $178bn in economic output, with strong expectations its growth will continue to outstrip other regions.
It will be up to project developers to apply for the loans, but The Australian has been told that likely applicants include:
● Cairns Airport, which wants to expand capacity.
● A rail line from Mount Isa to Tennant Creek, an idea backed by US company Genesee & Wyoming, which runs the Ghan line from Adelaide to Darwin.
● The Darwin waterfront precinct, to expand tourism,
● The proposed Nullinga Dam west of Cairns, a $586 million project meant to offer security of water supply for farmers and the growing Queensland population.
● The upgrade and sealing of the Tanami Road in Western Australia, as well as improvement of the Outback Way, which stretches for 2800km from Western Australia to Queensland.
● The raising of the Eden Bann Weir and construction of a weir at Rookwood on the Fitzroy River in Queensland.
The rules will stipulate that the government can only lend up to 50 per cent of the debt for each project, setting a limit to taxpayers’ exposure to each project. The guidelines will suggest a $50m minimum on each commonwealth contribution, but this is not mandatory.
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