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Northern Australia Minister Josh Frydenberg hints at ports, rail and airport boom in north Queensland

By Mark Beale

A MASSIVE north Queensland jobs bonanza — sparked by up to $5 billion concessional loans for private and public projects — will help drive Malcolm Turnbull’s agenda to encourage the economy.

The new Prime Minister’s hand-picked Northern Australia Minister Josh Frydenberg has hinted at a ports, rail and airport boom in areas that could reach from the Torres Strait, the Gulf country and down to Mackay.

In a sign of bipartisanship, Mr Frydenberg has reached out to the Palaszczuk Government, which has exempted itself from receiving a share of $5.9 billion because it has refused to sell assets — a key component of the Asset Recycling Fund.

Mr Frydenberg — who spent a month working as a jackaroo in his younger days — has already had talks with State Development, Natural Resources and Mines Minister Anthony Lynham.

“I think there’s enormous potential for Queensland,’’ Mr Frydenberg exclusively told The Sunday Mail.

He aims to recharge the Queensland economy by encouraging private enterprise, which can’t get financing, to come to him with their infrastructure projects.

It’s understood it could mean expanded ports in the Gulf to increase live cattle exports, the ability to transport more LNG to Asia, new airports servicing new mines and the communications and water infrastructure needed to support mini employment hubs.

The initiative could give a dramatic boost to north Queensland, which is struggling with high unemployment and even higher youth joblessness.

Mr Frydenberg said: “This initiative will encourage the construction of infrastructure to support the expansion of industry and the northern Australian economy. The expectation is that this will also support local employment for northern Australians.

“Queensland is well-endowed with natural resources, and energy resources, agriculture, tourism and international education.’’

Mr Frydenberg was also appointed Energy and Resources Minister. “So what I’ve been thinking about is how do I see my role as a Minister for Energy, Resources and Northern Australia as it applies to Queensland and I really look forward to working with the State Government … to drive investment, growth and jobs.

“The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility will see the Government work in partnership with state and territory governments and the private sector to provide concessional loans for the construction of major projects such as airports, ports, rail, roads and energy infrastructure.’’

Originally published as $5 billion boost for Qld jobs

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