TOURISM FUND: Australian Labor Party shadow minister for finance Jim Chalmers, shadow treasurer Chris Bowen, Gladstone's Zac Beers and Queensland senator Chris Ketter outside Gladstone Regional Council Chambers.
TOURISM FUND: Australian Labor Party shadow minister for finance Jim Chalmers, shadow treasurer Chris Bowen, Gladstone's Zac Beers and Queensland senator Chris Ketter outside Gladstone Regional Council Chambers. Tegan Annett

Pollie lashes out at NAIF, spruces $1b tourism fund in Gladstone

UPGRADES to East Shores and Great Barrier Reef are on the cards as the Australian Labor Party takes aim at the lack of spending from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund.

Labor shadow treasurer Chris Bowen lashed out at the NAIF in Gladstone yesterday while announcing his party's plans for a $1 billion tourism fund if elected.

The $5 billion NAIF, which is open to Gladstone projects, offers concessional loans to projects in north Australia.

Adani's $1 billion north Queensland rail line and a $2-3 billion next generation coal-fired power station have both been touted as possible NAIF projects.

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But since its inception more than two years ago the fund has not released one cent.

Talking up Labor's newly announced Northern Australia Tourism Infrastructure Fund - to provide loans for tourism infrastructure - Mr Bowen said the Coalition's $5 billion fund was not delivering for central Queensland.

Declaring he was "focused on the future," Mr Bowen said Labor's fund would be similar to the NAIF, but with one key difference.

"I would start spending some money," Mr Bowen said.

"We'd have all the necessary checks and balances (for the fund), but our mandate would be to get on to it."

Mr Bowen met with Gladstone Regional Council yesterday and Labor's 2016 candidate for Flynn, Zac Beers.

With Labor's shadow minister for finance Jim Chalmers and Queensland Senator Chris Ketter in tow, Mr Bowen said Gladstone projects were on their radar.

Describing Gladstone as "a gorgeous part of the world," Mr Bowen said he could see exciting tourism opportunities for the region.

"I think people of Gladstone understand that having all your eggs in one basket is very rarely a good economic strategy," he said.

"Tourism is an obvious opportunity for Gladstone and the region."

Mr Beers said Labor's fund could help upgrade East Shores and other facilities to attract more cruise ships to the region.

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"When we have the perfect storm that we've seen of recent years with the downturn of manufacturing industries, the local economy really suffers," he said.

"We talk about the cruise industry and there's massive potential there in terms of more passenger ships coming through.

"If we invested in the right projects around the community we can make access easier for tourists ... whether it be off the highway or off those cruise ships."

While Mr Beers hasn't been officially endorsed as the party's next candidate for Flynn, a media alert ahead of yesterday's announcement listed the Gladstone man as the ALP's Flynn candidate.



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