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Is the Adani seeking funding body – the NAIF some sort of sick joke?

Redcuchulain is concerned that the NAIF – the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility has various issues to sort through before they decide upon a loan to Adani within the next few days. This article highlights a petition which calls on the Federal Government to suspend the operations of NAIF. That is until the Auditor General can conduct an appropriate investigation on the governance of the program.

An Unfortunate Acronym

Dictionary definition: naïf


1. naive or ingenuous.
1.a naive or ingenuous person.

The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility

Of course, we are now more familiar with the NAIF as applied to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility. With bipartisan support, The Government set up NAIF in July 2016. The aim was to provide concessional loans to finance development in Northern Australia. The fund has over $5 Billion dollars at its disposal. Seven independent board members sit on the board. Based on the Board’s recommendations, the Minister for Northern Australia (currently Senator Matthew Canavan) has the authority to approve the expenditure.

The NAIF board came under fire from critics in March 2017. They had yet to approve a single cent in funding, despite over 80 applications lodged. The NAIF Board had met just four times and had paid the board members a total of almost $560,000. (Under fire: NAIF board members under fire earning over $500k: Rockhampton Morning Bulletin)

Environmental groups have been arguing that the real reason behind the NAIF is to facilitate the transfer of Government money to the Adani Carmichael mine. The Australian Conservation Foundation claim that the fact that five of the seven directors have coal mining industry links are proof of this. Dirty Deeds Video – Australian Conservation Foundation. The NAIF have so far refused to comment on allegations regarding conflicts of interest. They simply say that ‘all of their Directors are aware of their obligations’.

Conflicts of Interest

The NAIF does have a published conflict of interest document NAIF Conflict of interest policy. Under this policy ‘examples of Directors’ Conflicts of Interest are where a NAIF Director also sits on the Board of another company which is applying for a financial facility from NAIF or where a NAIF Director holds shares in a company which has applied to NAIF for a financial facility.’

These provisions are insufficient. Particularly in the context of extremely large projects which may increase demand in a particular sector. One could reasonably expect personal gain even if not having a personal interest in an entity applying for funding through NAIF.

Former Treasurer Wayne Swan has described the Governance of NAIF, which was set up with bipartisan support, being like ‘Lehman Brothers’. Northern Australia Fund Governance as dodgy as Lehman Brothers : Australian Financial Review. The Auditor-General has indicated that a review of the NAIF may take place in the next year’s work program.

Some Shocking Revelations

This was all before the shocking revelations of the past week. The ABC, Guardian and Buzzfeed politics published stories regarding conflict of interest. The stories allege that one of the Directors, Karla Way McPhail, has a severe conflict of interest with respect to the NAIF decision on Adani. Ms. McPhail is featured in a story (below) in the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin talking up the Carmichael mine. Mining skills shortage threats if we miss training; Rockhampton Morning Bulletin

The articles published over the last week allege that Karla Way-McPhail has:

  • Business interests which place her in a conflicted situation over the Adani mine decision.
  • Appointed because she has a personal friendship with Minister Matthew Canavan
  • Is a hyper-partisan supporter of the LNP and has recently deleted some Facebook posts which would confirm this.

ABC 30th May 2017 – Potential conflict of interests of NAIF Board Members

The Guardian 31st May 2017 – Conflict of interests for Director on NAIF Board

Buzzfeed Politics 1st June ‘Director on NAIF scrubs Facebook posts’

Buzzfeed Politics 2nd June 2017 “Minister appointed Mate to NAIF board”

ABC 2nd June 2017 – “Conflict of interests over approval of $900M loan spark Senate questions

Will There Really Be an Investigation, Barnaby?

Whilst these allegations certainly look concerning and Barnaby Joyce has promised there will be an investigation, is the problem with the NAIF not at a higher level?

How can Matthew Canavan, the Resources Minister, also be the Minister responsible for NAIF? Of course, Senator Canavan wants to get Adani approved. He has put a huge amount of work into the project. He would not be human if he was prepared to see it fail at this stage. Big mistakes are often made in projects and participants are too personally invested. This effect is known as the ‘Sunk Cost’. Recovery of work done is not possible. None of us want to fail. With failure, Senator Canavan risks a loss of political capital.

We are all human. Minister Canavan and the NAIF board members are as fallible and imperfect as the rest of us. Systems are supposed to be designed in such a manner as to protect us from our own nature.

I am in no way questioning the personal integrity of Minister Canavan, Ms. McPhail or any of the other board members. It is clear that all of these people have passion and drive and have contributed a lot to this country.

The Public Should Have Faith in the System Where Adani is Concerned

NAIF would appear to have been set up incorrectly. With a decision as important as a $900 million loan to Adani, it is imperative the public have faith in the system. A good start would be to split the ministerial portfolios a different way. This is so Senator Canavan, the decision maker, is not conflicted himself. The rest of the process regarding applicant selection, conflict of interest management and how board members should behave in the media I will leave to the Auditor-General. Needless to say, it should be to a standard which should satisfy a former treasurer.

If we fail to get the system right and leave this to the goodwill of the people concerned it may turn out badly for Northern Australia. Of course, there is always a small chance that it has been set up to achieve the results desired and that the choice of acronym is some sort of sick joke. In that case, if we fall for it, we are indeed a country of naifs!

Concerned about NAIF.

Sign the petition now.

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  1. Keith

    The volume of sea ice is at a record low level at present as measured by PIOMAS. Last year, satellite data confirmed PIOMAS measures when the lowest extent of sea ice volume was measured. It is being noted that much multi year sea ice is being lost through the Nares Straight, the significance being that multi year sea ice binds together recently formed ice. There are satellite photos displaying fractured sea ice all the way to the North Pole.

    Something else that is of concern is a very recent study in relation to ice sheets breaking up allowing for an explosive situation through the voiding of methane ( only a very short article with reference to Abstract, published 2 . 6. ‘17):

    The Arctic has a strong influence on climate and ocean currents. Further methane being voided into the atmosphere increases atmospheric warmth.

    The point being that it is complete lunacy to ignore what science is investigating and writing it off as some gravy train for scientists.

    Also, to continue pushing fossil fuels hard we are putting young people at grave risk. We are already at the stage of a climate emergency; 600 ml of rain in 12 hours in Taiwan being a recent example of what is happening pretty well on a weekly basis.

    The Sistan-and-Baluchestan area of Iran has just experienced a temperature of 56 °C which created power outages.

    It is not single extreme events that display climate change; but, a constant continuation of them that underline climate change, as is happening.

    A couple of other references that might be of interest; the first being about avoiding 2C being unrealistic, the other being about CO2 emissions from the tundra during early winter in Alaska.

  2. Terry2

    “Adani spokesman Ron Watson said while such a subsidy [ the NAIF loan] could fast-track the project and underpin about 1500 jobs, it was not a prerequisite for the crucial rail line to proceed.”

    “It’s not critical. We have obviously applied for it because it’s available,” he told Fairfax Media. “This is something that governments of all political persuasions have done in the past and I assume will do in the future. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s make or break for the project.”

    So, the NAIF loan is not critical to the ADANI mine !

    The legislation governing the NAIF says that :

    Matters to be considered when making Investment Decisions

    (1) The Facility must not provide a Financing Mechanism unless the Board is satisfied the Project would not otherwise have received sufficient financing from other financiers.

    So, even by their own rules, the loan ADANI application does not qualify !

  3. Freethinker

    The Essential poll confirms again what I have been saying for long time, ” Voters are more focused on reducing power prices than on emissions reductions or electricity grid security according to the latest Guardian Essential poll, ….”
    Keeping power prices down was the most popular option for Liberal/National voters (33%) and ALP voters (28%). The most popular option among Greens voters was to prioritise the reduction of carbon emissions (49%).
    There some more interesting points here:

    At the end of the day, for many, it is more important the back pocket now than the future of the planet tomorrow.
    The CT effect is keep repeating…….

  4. roma guerin

    I signed the petition immediately it appeared, and shared it with my rather small FB friends list. I cannot see anywhere in various news items that either the QLD Premier or the PM have been asked, in public, why they continue to support the Adani project in the face of all the known information about Adani, his multi-layered companies, his shady business practices, his environmental vandalism, his absolute lack of support from the Indian Govt or the big banking institutions, and on and on and on. It is high time that somebody backed either or both these politicians into a corner and made them answer the question. There is no obvious justification for their frantic support of Adani. am I missing something?


    the jobs claim being circulated for the mine by adani and the LNP is a blatant lie. the official adani report put into evidence at the queensland land court states 1464 equivalent full time direct and indirect jobs created OVER THE WHOLE LIFE of the mine. the life span of the mine is between 25 and 60 years. that works out to be only 28 to 54 full time jobs being created over the whole period. the mine will be fully automated. there is no economic benefit to the community in the mine. the damage to the environment and the inevitable loss of tourist jobs caused by degradation of the reef will far out weigh any benefits generated by the mine. further the conflicts of interest in NAIF indicates that serious corruption is present here. conflicts of interest are a form of corruption. Its time to OPPOSE THE MAJOUR PARTIES. they are all inherently corrupt.


    i encourage anyone to consider the international law doctrine of odeous debt. search for it on www. LNP politicians should be forced to pay any debt they incur in the name of the australian people or that the australian people are unable to pay without loss of their soveign entitlements, rights and benefits as citizens due to the corrupt decision making of the LNP gov.

  7. Freethinker

    Adani gives ‘green light’ to $16bn Carmichael coal mine
    Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Adani officially announce the company’s intention to invest in the proposed Galilee basin mega-mine.
    She is very pleased with it.
    Oh well, if go ahead, money will trickle down to few in the working class.
    A win win for the rich and the big parties that believe in this kind of economics.
    Looks like that we have a COALition between the Liberals, Nationals and the ALP.

  8. diannaart

    @ Freethinker

    The coal mining venture still requires finance – in spite of claims the mine is due to start:

    The Stop Adani Alliance spokesman and chairman of the Australian Conservation Foundation Geoff Cousins said an investment decision did not mean Adani had secured the finance it needed.

    “Adani is yet to lure any financial institutions willing to bankroll the project, which is proving hugely unpopular with the Australian public,” Mr Cousins said.

    Even Adani Australia chief executive Jeyakumar Janakaraj said:

    the company planned to have financial backing in place by December.

    Today’s announcement is another PR display – there is no “green light”.

    We still have hope 🙂

  9. Freethinker


    I know but that does not change the intention of the state government, which ignore the recommendations by science and the wishing of the people that prefer protecting the reef and the associated jobs.
    My views does not change regarding Anastasia government and for that matter the ALP federal that are seating in the fence.

  10. Matters Not


    encourage anyone to consider the international law doctrine of odious debt

    Yes read it! And then dismiss it. Because it ain’t gonna happen. From the linked article:

    However, this doctrine has gained little momentum within the international legal community, although many countries could qualify … In a recent study, we argued for the creation of an independent institution that could assess whether regimes are legitimate and declare any sovereign debt subsequently incurred by illegitimate ones odious and thus not the obligation of successor governments.

    As it stands now, countries repay debt even if it is odious because, if they failed to do so, their assets abroad could be seized and their reputations would be tarnished, making it more difficult for them to borrow again or attract foreign investment.

    Grasping at straws. False hopes and all that.

  11. Matters Not

    diannaart, The latest poll is looking very bad for Labor, particularly in the North and other areas outside the capital..

    The report cites primary vote swings against Labor of 13% in north Queensland, 9% in the regional remainder and 5.5% in the south-east, compared with respective results of 4.3%, 7% and 6.6% for the LNP .

    The result is a good deal worse for Labor than the last published state poll, which was conducted by Galaxy in late April, with primary votes after exclusion of the 6.7% undecided at 31.9% for Labor, 35.3% for the Liberal National Party, 17.0% for One Nation and 9.4% for the Greens.

    PHON is on the march. Both the ALP and LNP are in panic mode. PHON is likely to hold the balance of power. Not much chance of the politicians standing in the way. After all it is not as though we have a debt problem. So there’s plenty of dollars for good works‘. LOL.

    ReachTEL: 51-49 to LNP in Queensland

  12. javascript obfuscator

    there is always a small chance that it has been set up to achieve the results desired and that the choice of acronym is some sort of sick joke

  13. paulwalter

    Re latest polls, even allowing for Labor being wedged, the arcane stupidity of the electorate up there is beyond contemplation.

  14. Mick Byron

    self delete


    matters not. to a conservative like you it may seem false hope but to the more radical and imaginative who can see its potential, it is a precedent.

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