INFRASTRUCTURE SUCCESS: Mayor Bill Ludwig, Karla  McPhail, Mary Carroll and Prof John Rolfe at the Future CQ forum at Rosslyn Bay.
INFRASTRUCTURE SUCCESS: Mayor Bill Ludwig, Karla McPhail, Mary Carroll and Prof John Rolfe at the Future CQ forum at Rosslyn Bay. Allan Reinikka ROK210319afuturec

How NAIF infrastructure will help CQ

INFRASTRUCTURE in the north will be critical to economic success, according to Yeppoon businesswoman Karla McPhail.

Ms McPhail, the Coal Train CEO, is also on the board of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.

She gave an update on the organisation's funding decisions at the Future CQ forum at Rosslyn Bay last month.

Ms McPhail said that energy, and investing in alternative energy sources, was one of the highest priorities for NAIF.

As at April 1, NAIF has made 10 investment decisions amounting to $628 million in loans supporting more than $1.7 billion worth of projects.

The board has also made three conditional project approvals totalling $635 million supporting $1.1 billion worth of projects.

There were also 109 "active inquiries” in the NAIF pipeline as at April 1, and half of those are in Queensland.

Ms McPhail said while the projects NAIF was looking at weren't all in Queensland, or indeed Central Queensland, the benefits could be felt right across northern Australia.

She said projects were focused on streamlining transport of horticultural and other agriculture products to Asian markets, allowing Australian produce to be on international restaurant tables within hours.

"We're funding meatworks that are cutting beef to specific styles and cuts that are required in international markets as well and then moving that product quite quickly,” she said.

Overcoming transport issues and communications is another key focus. Ms McPhail said northern Australia's communications systems were the most underdeveloped.

Greater diversity in mining is another challenge, but Ms McPhail said there was plenty of investment outside the coal sector.

She said there was growing interest in lithium mines, with three in northern Australia.

Australia accounts for about half the world's lithium supply.

The last key component of infrastructure NAIF is looking to fund is water.

"Water management is huge for us and if we get water management right it will contribute to our ability to grow and supply both national and international markets,” Ms McPhail said.

Ms McPhail said NAIF would look at anything which generated jobs or contributed to social infrastructure and economic engagement.

However, she said Central Queensland-based projects had to apply for funding and couldn't wait for NAIF to knock on their doors.

"Investment in infrastructure space in the north is critical to economic growth here. There are some really great things happening and it is worth following what future economies will look like,” she said.