I was recently asked to comment on the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund, which has largely dropped from sight since its apparent primary purpose, channelling public money to the Adani mine project, was vetoed by the Queensland government. Here’s my response
The NAIF is a failed political solution to a non-problem, harking back to the developmentalist ideology of the mid-20th century.. It reflects an outdated view of Northern Australia as a largely homogenous, underdeveloped region, in need of special government action to get growth going. In operation it has proved to be little more than a slush fund, dribbling out modest amounts of assistance to a grab-bag of projects with no coherence.
Whatever the individual merits of these projects, including regional universities and airports, fish farms and power plants they don’t differ in any important way from similar projects that don’t happen to be located north of the Tropic of Capricorn.
The NAIF should be wound up, and the funds allocated to a coherent program of infrastructure investment based on national needs rather than arbitrarily geographical distinctions.