Australian news, and some related international items

Auditor General to investigate Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility?

Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility may be investigated by auditor general
NGOs urge audit following Wayne Swan’s warning Naif risks ‘misallocating billions of dollars’ in loan for Adani’s mine rail link,
Guardian, Michael Slezak, 17 Aug 17,  The controversial Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, which is mulling a $900m loan for a rail link for Adani’s Carmichael coalmine, may be investigated by the auditor general.

The potential inquiry by the auditor general, who has wide-ranging access and information-gathering powers, follows interventions from a former federal treasurer and environment groups.

In March, Wayne Swan wrote to the auditor general requesting that he urgently begin an investigation into the “unacceptable fiscal risks” Naif posed to the commonwealth.

Swan warned that Naif risked “misallocating billions of dollars of public money,” specifically raising the secrecy around Naif’s consideration of a loan to Adani, its lack of adequate staffing and the pressure imposed on the organisation by “a domineering minister”.

“I am concerned the real risk of maladministration may lead to significant losses to the commonwealth in the future and the misallocation of resources due to political pressure and poor governance, resulting in funds failing to be allocated to more worthy purposes,” Swan said in his letter.

The auditor general replied last month, informing Swan that he had considered the request, and decided to include an audit of Naif among the potential performance audits to be completed in the 2017-18 work program.

The auditor general is independent of the government, and the decision on whether an audit of Naif goes ahead depends on a number of factors, including the priorities of the parliament and public submissions……

Paul Sinclair, ACF’s Director of Campaigns, said: “Naif is a secretive, poorly run organisation. It is critical that the auditor general fully scrutinise its operations, transparency and decision-making processes.”

“Naif’s consideration of the Adani project shows that it cannot be trusted to spend public funds intelligently,” he said. “Northern Australia needs investment that will benefit people and the environment, not Adani’s bank accounts in the Cayman Islands.”

“Without radical reforms, Naif will simply become another vehicle for fleecing Australia of its wealth to line the pockets of a few billionaire mining magnates,” Sinclair said. “Australians can have no confidence in an organisation that has pledged its allegiance to coal mining instead of the Great Barrier Reef and the 70,000 jobs that depend on it.”

Naif has not responded to questions from the Guardian.


August 18, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal

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