NAIF staff on Facebook, eBay, as local projects unfunded
STAFF at the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility appear to have spent as much time perusing social media and dining out as they have approving two projects for Northern Australia.
New figures tabled in Senate Estimates have revealed the daily operations and costs of the Cairns-based NAIF office and its 25 staff members over the past three financial years, with one board member spending nearly $13,500 on accommodation and meals.
The NAIF, which is in charge of the Federal Government's $5 billion investment fund for the region, has approved two projects for loans since it launched about three years ago.
These include an NT barramundi farm, and a port expansion in WA's Pilbara region.
The most frequently visited websites by staff shows that, while Microsoft Office online programs received the most use, Facebook was the third most visited site, accessed 15,363 times just this year.
The figures also show that eBay received the fourth most usage in the office, ahead of web-based tools such as Amazon S3, appnexus, Gmail, and LinkedIn.
Former chairwoman Sharon Warburton earned $149,960 last financial year, excluding superannuation. Ms Warburton, who resigned from her position last month, spent $94,807 on travel and claimed $13,448 on accommodation and meals during the past two financial years.
NAIF chief executive Laurie Walker is paid $418,790 per annum. During the past two financial years, the Cairns-based boss spent $87,620 on travel and claimed a total $7309 on all expenses including meals, taxis, trains and carparking.
The agency has previously promised it would meet its goal of funding three to five major projects by July.
Ms Walker said NAIF was still delivering on its mandate to grow the region's economy and population.
She said there would be significant public benefit from the two projects approved.
"There are currently a total of 20 projects that are in the due diligence phase of the NAIF pipeline and eight of those are in Queensland."
Ms Walker said she could not provide details for commercial-in-confidence reasons, "but there are a couple of exciting potential projects for Queensland".
NAIF did not respond to the questions and answers on notice nor answer the question: Does NAIF believe it is using its time and resources wisely to fund infrastructure projects?