Chris Wade CEO of Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF)

Chris Wade
CEO of Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF)

1. Over the years what is the one thing you have come to appreciate about the city of Cairns?

As CEO of NAIF, which is headquartered in Cairns, I’m fortunate to be able to work and travel across a vast section of Australia given our footprint covers northern Queensland, the Northern Territory and the northern part Western Australia.

While each region is unique and has its own distinct strengths, challenges and opportunities, what unites the whole of northern Australia including Cairns is its untapped potential, undoubted geographical beauty and warm and welcoming community.

From recent conversations in Cairns, it is evident local stakeholders have a range of great ideas and proposals about how Cairns can grow and develop. I look forward to continuing to grow those partnerships in the coming months so that NAIF can work with others to support the Cairns region through this difficult period and into a prosperous future.

2. The region has experienced many tough times throughout the years, but none quite like we are experiencing now.  What is one message you would like to give to the people of Cairns at this uncertain time?

Stay united, work together and don’t be afraid to have a go and explore ways to continue to support and also diversify the economy. I am confident Cairns will come out of this period in a stronger position, ready to develop and prosper.

3. Leaders like yourself have united to fight for the region in what are unprecedented times – what role are you and your organisation playing in all of this?

To those outside the government sector, I appreciate that at times it can be a little overwhelming understanding which government agency does what.

NAIF is a Commonwealth Government development financier with a unique role to help unlock Northern Australia’s economic potential. We look to work in a collaborative manner with key government, regional and industry stakeholders to identify projects that will maximise the economic and employment impact of NAIF’s financing support.

Of NAIF’s current $ 5 billion allocation, NAIF has to date made financing commitments of nearly $2 billion to support job creating and job supporting projects across northern Australia. More than 5,000 jobs are forecast to be created and supported across NAIF-backed projects.

In these difficult economic times, we look to be as flexible, innovative and agile as possible to provide financial assistance to proponents and projects that meet the requirements of our Act and Investment Mandate.

4. While there are many negatives about the current situation, we all find ourselves in – what is one thing you are looking forward to doing while in isolation?

On a personal level, having to work from home during the current period means I am able to spend more time with my family. Much of my role is usually on the road so it is great to have additional family time.

On a work front, our team are now well and truly used to working remotely and are focused on working with a range of parties to finalise a number of projects across North Queensland and Northern Australia more generally.