Battery Gigafactory Feasibility
The proposed $2 billion battery gigafactory development on Townsville’s western fringe at Woodstock may not go ahead unless a feasibility study costing $3.1 million is funded by the State government.
Labor’s caretaker Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk had made an election pledge that if re-elected at the November 25 state election, her government will fund the feasibility study. Ms. Palaszczuk said the necessary funds will come from the Jobs and Regional Growth Fund.
However, the head of Boston Energy and the battery gigafactory Imperium 3 consortium based in New York, Mr. Bill Moss reported to The Australian that support for the project must come from both state and federal governments. Mr. Moss commented that his international consortium is keen to move ahead as fast as possible with the project.
The federal, state and local government authority has agreed to the Smart City Deal from which the federal funding for local projects must be administered by the State government by way of loans or grant submissions.
State government is putting over $30 billion dollars of positive economic and social impact funding for North Queensland at risk
The federal government has established the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF), the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), Water Infrastructure Fund (WIF) and Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) from which federal funding must be sourced for any “key transformative infrastructure”.
As the City Deal intergovernmental agreement requires cooperation from the State government to apply for federal funding for the battery gigafactory, the workability and integrity of the Townsville City Deal are in serious jeopardy.
The success or failure of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facilities hinges on the State government.
A continuation of a Labor State government that has become hostile towards federal funding instruments such as the NAIF and other federal funding instruments offering collectively nearly $10 billion in capital for infrastructure and jobs programs in North Queensland, puts the Townsville gigafactory in harm’s way.
Townsville residents have witnessed the same political jostling on the Adani railway to its coal mine in the Galilee Basin, and now the water security infrastructure project for Townsville as the Ross River Dam is below 15% capacity, so the funding has become an emergency consideration for the community.
Pumping water from the Burdekin Dam is costing the local government authority millions of dollars. Yet the State government is blaming the federal government for not providing the Stage 2 funding of $230 million and a further $100 million for State 3 in the Water Security Taskforce Interim Report.
Queensland Senator and the Federal government Minister for Northern Australia, Matt Canavan said: “There has been an internal brawl in the Queensland Labor party for 12 months about the Adani project and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and the Left wing have won”.
“We cannot use the NAIF to make the loan directly without Queensland signing the project finance documents”, Mr. Canavan said.
The political jostling over Adani funding may be excusable in the context of the environment and climate arguments and policy differences, but the same cannot be said about water or clean industry.
Combined with the $20 billion Adani coal mine and railway projects and the collective $10 billion infrastructure facilities available from the federal government through the City Deal, as well as the $2 billion battery gigafactory, the State government is putting over $30 billion dollars of positive economic and social impact funding for North Queensland at risk.
Pure politics between State and federal leaders are obstructing the funding route through the Townsville City Deal for water security and the gigafactory from the federal government’s, causing delays in the deliverable of critical jobs and now the possibility of killing off a new battery manufacturing industry in North Queensland.
The outcome of the election in Queensland, whether it be Labor or LNP, must put politics aside and cooperate with the $10 billion federal funding corporations such as NAIF, CEFC, BBRF and WIF for the benefit of the community.
Otherwise, the international consortium driving the battery gigafactory may not show the same level of patience as the Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill in dealing with Ms. Palaszczuk on urgent infrastructure and industry funding.
The battery gigafactory consortium consists of US-based Boston Energy, Eastman Kodak, C4V, electronics manufacturer C&D Assembly and ASX listed company Magnus Resources who could create up to 7000 direct and indirect jobs in the international supply chain.
The consortium plans to construct factories in New York, Middle East and Australia.
In such a commercially competitive international environment, any unnecessary delays by the State government cooperating with an application for federal funding through the City Deal could be catastrophic.
The Premier of the next State government in Queensland will be expected to get the loan paperwork completed for Stage 2 of the Water Security project and battery gigafactory within the first 30 days of taking office.
The residents of North Queensland are calling on the leaders of the major State political parties, Mr. Nicholls and Ms. Palaszczuk, to pledge urgent cooperation with the federal funding corporations by submitting the necessary loan documents to the federal government for these transformative infrastructure investments to proceed without delay.
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