ties up north. To ease private-sector concerns about the viability of projects in
the region, in June then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced AU$1.2 billion
in funding for infrastructure projects. That includes AU$600 million for roads,
AU$200 million for water-storage projects, AU$100 million to improve cattle
supply chains and nearly AU$40 million to upgrade airstrips. Separately, the government set up the AU$5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to get
projects such as ports, pipelines, and electricity and water infrastructure off the
ground. The focus will be on projects that have the ability to generate a return,
but not at a level sufficient to be 100 percent financed by the private sector.
The government’s moves should spur private-sector interest in projects, says
Clara Cutajar, a Sydney-based transaction services partner, PwC Australia, a
PMI Global Executive Council member.
In particular, she sees opportunity in cattle farming and the development of
liquefied natural gas, but only if infrastructure and land ownership challenges
are overcome. Indigenous populations own much of the land in Northern Australia, so success
hinges on “meaningful engagement” with those communities, she says.
“Project proponents need to be cognizant of that context,” she says. “They can mitigate risks by
working in partnership and by establishing meaningful relationships with indigenous people over
the longer term.”
Past projects offer cautionary tales. A dispute with landowners and environmentalists forced Australian energy producer Woodside to ditch plans for a US$45 billion liquefied natural gas plant in
Western Australia in 2013.
OPENING UP THE NORTH
Even before the Australian government announced AU$1.2 billion in funding for Northern Australia infrastructure
projects, the private sector had projects underway.
Location: Legune Station, Northern Territory
growing demand in Asia,
Seafarms Group is backing a project that may
end up being the largest
prawn farm in the
country. The farm aims
to produce 100,000
tonnes of black tiger
prawns each year.
Island, off the coast of
the Northern Territory
Summary: The new
port on the Tiwi Islands
consists of a wharf, 36
hectares (89 acres) of
land, and space for fuel
storage and distribution.
Location: off the coast
of northwest Australia
Budget: US$34 billion
Summary: This project
will build facilities
220 kilometers (137
miles) off the coast,
and an 889-kilometer
(552-mile) pipeline to
connect the two.
STAGE 2 OF DARWIN
CIT Y WATERFRON T
Budget: AU$90 million
construction project includes 1,300
mixed-use space, roads
“Project managers must
accept that Northern
Australia is vastly different
from Southern Australia.
It has an entirely different
climate, culture and business
—Andrew Fisher, Sensu Homes, Darwin, Northern Territory